US president Donald Trump has rejected a nearly $900bn stimulus bill that passed both the Republican-controlled Senate and the Democrat-held House, saying the landmark economic relief package was a “disgrace”.
In a four-minute video posted to Twitter on Tuesday night, the president railed against the nearly 5,600-page piece of legislation, which was passed a day earlier and will need his signature to become law.
The bill includes almost $300bn in small business relief; a new round of direct payments of up to $600 for American adults; and a $300 per-week top-up in unemployment insurance until mid-March, among dozens of other provisions designed to ease the damage from the coronavirus pandemic.
The president said he would ask Congress to “amend” the bill and “increase the ridiculously low $600 [direct payment] to $2,000, or $4,000 for a couple”.
“I am 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, and maybe that administration will be me, and we will get it done,” the president added.
Joe Biden, the former vice-president, defeated Mr Trump in the November 3 presidential election. He was officially selected by the electoral college last week. But Mr Trump has refused to concede defeat, repeatedly claiming, without evidence, that the election was rigged against him.
Mr Trump’s announcement late on Tuesday came as a surprise to many in Washington.
Earlier in the day, Steven Mnuchin, the US Treasury secretary, who had negotiated on behalf of the White House with congressional leadership, released a statement saying he was “pleased” with the stimulus bill, which he said would “provide critical additional economic relief for American workers, families, and businesses that, through no fault of their own, have been adversely impacted by the coronavirus pandemic”.