Trump plays golf in Florida as COVID relief hangs in the balance
PALM BEACH (AP) – After throwing a grenade that threatens to explode a huge COVID relief and government funding bill and force the government to shut down amid a pandemic, President Donald Trump has spent his vigil of Christmas golfing in Florida.
Failure to agree on the bill could deny checks to millions of Americans on the brink.
Trump had no events on his public schedule on the first day of his winter vacation Thursday, but made his way to his Palm Beach golf club, where he was spotted by CNN cameras on the links. Reporters received no details of his schedule for the day, but said, “As the holidays approach, President Trump will continue to work tirelessly for the American people. Her schedule includes many meetings and calls. “
Trump’s departure came as Washington was still reeling from his surprise eleventh-hour demand that a year-end spending bill that congressional leaders had spent months negotiating is giving most Americans $ 2,000 COVID relief checks – far more than the $ 600 members of his own party. agreed to. The idea was quickly rejected by House Republicans in a rare Christmas Eve session, leaving the proposal in limbo.
The bipartisan compromise had been seen as a done deal and won wide approval in the House and Senate this week after the White House assured GOP leaders Trump was backing it. If Trump refuses to sign the deal, which is tied to a $ 1.4 trillion government funding bill, it will force the federal government to shut down, in addition to delaying aid controls and ending aid unemployment benefits and eviction protections amid the most difficult period of the pandemic.
It was a final middle finger for Republicans from a raging president after his Nov. 3 defeat to President-elect Joe Biden and trying to come up with new and increasingly outrageous ploys in an attempt to cancel the results of a Democratic election. He was encouraged by allies like his lawyer, former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, who accompanied the president to Florida on Air Force One.
Trump’s anger was focused, in part, on Congressional Republicans who he said did not sufficiently support his quest to delegitimize Biden’s victory by launching unsubstantiated allegations of mass voter fraud before the Congress does meet to count the electoral college votes on Jan.6.
In Florida, Trump continued to complain about the results, complaining to members about being denied the election and expressing his frustrations over the year-end spending bill.
“At a meeting in Florida today, everyone was wondering why the Republicans aren’t up to arms and arguing over the Democrats stealing the rigged presidential election?” Trump tweeted after returning to his private club in Mar-a-Lago. “Especially in the Senate,” they said, “where you helped 8 senators win their races.”
“I’ll never forget!” he wrote in another,
The statements underscored fears that Trump will blow up negotiations to punish lawmakers for what he sees as their insufficient loyalty to support.
Trump has provided no credible evidence to back up his election claims, which have also been refuted by a long list of officials, from former Attorney General William Barr to Republican governors, judges and local election administrators.
Meanwhile, the nation continues to turn as the coronavirus spreads, with record infections and hospitalizations and more than 327,000 dead. And millions of people now face the prospect of spending the holidays alone or struggling to make ends meet without adequate income, food or shelter thanks to the economic toll of the pandemic.
To mark the holidays, President and First Lady Melania Trump tweeted a pre-recorded video message in which they wished Americans a Merry Christmas and thanked first responders and members of the military.
“As you know, this Christmas is different from years past,” said Ms. Trump, who focused on the acts of “kindness and courage” that the pandemic had inspired.
Trump praised the vaccine doses currently being administered and thanked officials. “It truly is a Christmas miracle,” he said.
Meanwhile, Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin have attempted to salvage year-end legislation to try to prevent a shutdown. Democrats will recall House lawmakers in Washington for a vote Monday on Trump’s $ 2,000 proposal, though she would likely die in the GOP-controlled Senate. They are also considering a vote Monday on an interim measure to at least avoid a federal shutdown and keep the government running until Biden’s inauguration on January 20.
In addition to relief checks, the COVID bill that passed would establish a temporary additional allowance of $ 300 per week without a job, provide a new round of grants for hard-hit businesses, restaurants and theaters and the money for schools, and would provide money for health care providers. and to help distribute the COVID vaccine.