US President-elect Joe Biden warned Saturday of “devastating consequences” if President Donald Trump continues to delay signing a COVID-19 economic relief bill passed by Congress.
Trump threw a long-awaited pandemic aid package into doubt last week as millions of Americans prepared to lose benefits and face eviction – demanding lawmakers more than triple the $600 direct payments to US taxpayers.
“This abdication of responsibility has devastating consequences. Today, about 10 million Americans will lose unemployment insurance benefits,” Biden said in a statement.
“In just a few days, government funding will expire, putting vital services and paychecks for military personnel at risk. In less than a week, a moratorium on evictions expires, putting millions at risk of being forced from their homes over the holidays.”
In a video late Tuesday, Trump, who is due to leave office in less than a month, called the $900 million bill “a disgrace” – despite it being passed Monday with a large bipartisan majority after months of negotiation.
The legislation was designed to throw a lifeline to businesses and people struggling to keep their heads above water.
But in a pre-recorded statement made in the White House and sent out on Twitter, Trump said he would refuse to accept the bill without changes.
“I am asking Congress to amend this bill and increase the ridiculously low $600 to $2,000, or $4,000 for a couple,” he said.
The move puts Trump at odds with Senate Republican majority leader Mitch McConnell and House minority leader Kevin McCarthy, who have ruled out any larger stimulus measures.
Democrats failed Thursday to get a standalone measure through Congress to increase the payments that would go to all taxpayers earning up to $75,000 a year, with smaller amounts for those making up to $99,000.
“Delay means more small businesses won’t survive this dark winter because they lack access to the lifeline they need, and Americans face further delays in getting the direct payments they deserve as quickly as possible to help deal with the economic devastation caused by COVID-19,” Biden added.