Millions of Americans have now temporarily lost their unemployment benefits after President Trump belatedly to signed a $900bn Covid relief bill into law.
The package was approved by Congress last week, after months of negotiations and bitter disagreements between Democrats and Republicans.
Eventually, they landed on a compromise, and the bill was sent to Trump to approve just in time to ensure the 14 million Americans who rely on government unemployment benefits were able to continue to receive financial support after the existing package expired on Saturday.
But Trump initially refused to sign the bill calling it “wasteful spending”. And his reasons left many confused.
Trump’s main issue was with the stimulus checks which are part of the package. Despite many Democrats pushing for more, the bill settled on a $600 one-off stipend for people earning less than $75,000 a year. However, Trump complained that it wasn’t enough.
Ironically, most Democrats agree, but it’s Republicans who are resisting his call for the amount to be increased exponentially to $2,000. Trump’s top economic advisor Steve Mnuchin introduced the $600 suggestion weeks ago, but the president had said nothing on the issue until now and avoided another government shutdown.
The House of Representatives now plans to hold a vote on Monday on a bill which would provide the $2,000 – but this would not factor in the unemployment benefits.
The package also includes $1.4tr for government spending.
Speaking to ABC on Sunday, Bernie Sanders described Trump’s actions as “unbelievably cruel”, highlighting that people could face eviction from their homes. Other prominent figures ranging from Nancy Sinatra to legendary TV news anchor Bill Mathers have also spoken out against the president.
And across the country, Americans affected by Trump’s staunch refusal to sign the bill have spoken out about the impact it will have on them.
While to many this may look like a political standoff, to the millions of affected individuals and families it’s about staying afloat until a change of administration.
What a way to top off 2020.