President Donald Trump signed the bipartisan $900 billion COVID-19 relief bill late Sunday, along with the $1.4 trillion omnibus spending package that continues to fund the U.S. government.
The relief bill, which passed both houses of Congress last week, includes expanded unemployment, money for small business loans, direct payments, rental assistance and extends the eviction moratorium for another month.
In a statement, Trump criticized some of the spending and provisions included in the bill.
“I will sign the Omnibus and Covid package with a strong message that makes clear to Congress that wasteful items need to be removed,” Trump said in a statement. “I will send back to Congress a redlined version, item by item, accompanied by the formal rescission request to Congress insisting that those funds be removed from the bill.”
“I am signing this bill to restore unemployment benefits, stop evictions, provide rental assistance, add money for PPP, return our airline workers back to work, add substantially more money for vaccine distribution, and much more.”
Appropriations included in the spending package have drawn criticism from both aisles — including things like defense aid for foreign countries, certain tax breaks and liability protections for technology companies.
In the statement, Trump stated that Congress will examine some of his requests, including the repeal of Section 230, a statute that shields technology companies from lawsuits over what third-party users publish on their platforms. Trump also stated that Congress will “focus strongly” on allegations of voter fraud, which Trump continues to push as the reason he lost the election, despite no evidence that widespread voter fraud occurred.
The initial delay in signing came as Trump demanded Congress increase direct payments to $2,000 per individual, rather than the $600 included in the bill now. On Wednesday, the U.S. House of Representatives tried to pass a bill by unanimous consent that would change the direct payment to $2,000, but it was blocked by House Republicans.
The House is expected to vote Monday on increasing those payments.
“The President must immediately call on Congressional Republicans to end their obstruction and to join him and Democrats in support of our stand-alone legislation to increase direct payment checks to $2,000, which will be brought to the Floor tomorrow,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Sunday in a statement.
Trump’s delay briefly let enhanced unemployment insurance expire, which could create delays in individuals getting money. Included in the new bill passed Sunday is expanded unemployment benefits that boost the state-led aid by $300 per week, as well as more money for the Paycheck Protection Program.
Also included in the bill is an extension of the eviction moratorium until the end of January, which was set to expire. The expiration of the moratorium could have left as many as 40 million renters exposed to the risk of eviction at the end of the month, at a time when unemployment is trending back in the wrong direction.
Despite the federal ban on evictions, landlords have filed as many as 150,000 eviction cases since the start of the pandemic, according to Princeton University’s Eviction Lab.
The relief package also includes $25 billion for rental assistance, with each state receiving a minimum of $200 million. At least 90 percent of the money is required to be used to provide financial assistance in the form of back and forward rent, utility payments and other housing expenses.