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Lawmakers 'relieved' Trump signed Covid relief bill his team negotiated

In a reversal, Trump signed the spending and relief bill Sunday night after suggesting he would veto it.
Image: White House Holds COVID-19 Vaccine Summit
President Donald Trump arrives to speak at the Operation Warp Speed vaccine summit in Washington on Dec. 8.Tasos Katopodis / Getty Images file

Lawmakers expressed relief and frustration after President Donald Trump signed a massive $2.3 trillion Covid-19 relief and government funding package Sunday night — with Democrats questioning why he took so long to sign a bill his own team helped negotiate.

"This much-needed relief could have made it to workers and families days ago," Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., tweeted. "Instead, 12 million Americans are wondering how they're going to pay rent and buy food next week thanks to Donald Trump's ego."

The bill, which funds the government through September and includes $900 billion in coronavirus relief money, was passed last Monday, but it was stuck in limbo after Trump released a video criticizing the new round of direct payments as being too small. Trump also demanded that the bill include new restrictions on big tech, and he blasted some of the spending provisions as "pork," including foreign aid payments that were in his own proposed budget.

Trump demanded that the $600 in direct payments to Americans who earned less than $75,000 in the previous tax year be increased to $2,000, despite opposition from his fellow Republicans.

The signing delay resulted in some unemployment benefits' expiring over the weekend.

"I am relieved the President has signed our bipartisan relief bill. I hope these emergency benefits can be quickly distributed to keep Americans fed & housed and our small businesses operating," Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., tweeted.

Rep. Gerry Connolly, D-Va., told MSNBC on Monday that Trump's delay "added a layer of terrible angst during the holiday season for people who are facing eviction, people who are unemployed, people who are worried about putting food on the table," as well as "people who are looking forward to the vaccination, and there's lots of money in this bill for the distribution and administration of the vaccine."

"To threaten all of that while he's playing golf in his resort in Florida is really playing, as I said, Russian roulette with American lives," Connolly said.

Some top Republican allies praised Trump for taking action and fighting for changes in the legislation, despite the lack of results.

"Paycheck Protection is renewed. Thousands of small businesses will be able to keep doors open and workers paid. Thank you, Mr. President, for putting people over politics," tweeted House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif.

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., wrote in a pair of tweets, "With President @realDonaldTrump signing the COVID relief and government funding bill, suffering Americans will get help, the vaccine will be distributed faster, and the government will stay open."

He pointed to a House vote to increase the direct stimulus payments to $2,000, which passed later Monday, as a win, even though the measure is expected to die in the Republican-controlled Senate.

"Well done Mr. President!" Graham tweeted.

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Not all Republicans were as effusive.

Rep. Tom Reed, R-N.Y., thanked Trump for signing the bill on MSNBC's "Morning Joe" but said his initial opposition "blindsided all of us."

Rep. Chip Roy, R-Texas, an ally of Trump's who had urged him not to sign the "ridiculous" bill, tweeted that Trump "capitulated" by signing the legislation.

After Libertarian Rep. Justin Amash of Michigan tweeted that Trump had "taken seven contradictory positions on the relief/omnibus bill in as many days," Roy agreed.

"Yes, he has. It's absurd," Roy wrote.