U.S. President Donald Trump is calling on the country’s Congress to amend a newly passed coronavirus relief package by raising the amount of money Americans will receive and cutting other measures he says are “wasteful.”
In a video posted to Twitter Tuesday evening, Trump called the long-awaited package a “disgrace.”
The legislation — which includes nearly $900 billion in spending, and is thousands of pages in length — passed through both chambers of Congress Monday evening after months of stalled negotiations.
Lawmakers tacked on a $1.4 trillion catchall spending bill and thousands of pages of other end-of-session business in a massive bundle of bipartisan legislation as Capitol Hill prepares to close the books on the year.
The Republican-held Senate voted 91-7 in favour of passing the package, just after the Democrat-majority House approved the legislations with a 359-53 vote.
The legislation now requires Trump’s signature to become law. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin has promised the $600 one-time payments for Americans included in the bill would then start flowing into bank accounts next week.
However, Trump said Congress found “plenty of money for foreign countries, lobbyists and special interests” while sending the “bare minimum to the American people who need it.”
He complained about money in the legislation for foreign countries, the Smithsonian Institution and fish breeding, among other spending.
“I’m asking Congress to amend this bill and increase the ridiculously low $600 to $2,000, or $4,000 for a couple,” he said.
Trump said he is also asking Congress to immediately get rid of the “wasteful and unnecessary items from this legislation, and to send me a suitable bill, or else the next administration will have to deliver a COVID relief package.
“Maybe that administration will be me, and we will get it done” he added, alluding to his efforts to overturn the results of November’s presidential election that he lost.
President-elect Joe Biden is scheduled to be sworn into office on Jan. 20, 2021.
Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi hit back at Trump, saying members of his party “repeatedly refused to say what amount the President wanted for direct checks.”
“At last, the President has agreed to $2,000 – Democrats are ready to bring this to the Floor this week by unanimous consent,” she wrote in a tweet Tuesday evening. “Let’s do it!”
Democratic Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said the party spent months trying to secure $2,000 checks for Americans “but Republicans blocked it.”
“Trump needs to sign the bill to help people and keep the government open and we’re glad to pass more aid Americans need,” he wrote on Twitter.
Earlier on Tuesday, Biden called the coronavirus aid package a “down payment.”
“Like all compromises, this is far from perfect,” he said. “Congress did their job this week, and I can and I must ask them to do it again next year.”
–With a file from The Associated Press and Reuters