U.S. President Donald Trump is spending the holiday weekend at his Florida resort as both Democrats and Republicans wait to see whether he will sign a critical pandemic relief and government funding package that he sharply criticized earlier this week.
The $2.3 trillion spending legislation, which includes $892 billion for coronavirus relief, has been flown from Washington to his Mar-a-Lago club to be available for him to sign into law. Trump has not specifically threatened to veto the bill, but he surprised lawmakers in both parties by labeling the legislation as a “disgrace” after it had been passed in the House and Senate, capping months of negotiations.
Trump said the package gave too much money to special interests and foreign aid, and said direct payments of $600 for most Americans should be increased to $2,000. That was seen as a rebuke to members of his own Republican party, which had resisted Democratic efforts to negotiate larger payments.
A partial federal government shutdown looms early Tuesday if Trump does not sign the bill. Congress is planning to return to work Monday, interrupting its usual Christmas recess, and could take up a stopgap measure to extend government funding for a few days or weeks while the impasse is resolved.
House members are also scheduled to vote Monday to override Trump’s veto of a $740 billion bill authorizing the country’s defense programs. If the House vote passes, the Senate could vote on the measure as early as Tuesday. It requires a two-thirds vote in both chambers to override a presidential veto.
Trump has criticized the defense bill on several fronts, arguing without explanation that the bill benefits China, and has demanded the removal of language that allows for the renaming of military bases that honor Confederate leaders. He has also demanded the addition of a provision making it easier to sue social media companies over content posted by their users.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called Trump’s veto “an act of staggering recklessness that harms our troops.”
However, Pelosi has embraced Trump’s call for $2,000 direct payments to all Americans below a specified income level, and on Thursday used a maneuver to force Republicans to defy Trump by blocking the increase.
Pelosi has announced plans to force another vote on the issue Monday. It is liable to be passed in the House, where Democrats have a majority, but unlikely to progress in the Republican-controlled Senate.
The White House declined to share details of the president’s schedule during his Christmas holiday. It said only: “During the holiday season, President Trump will continue to work tirelessly for the American people. His schedule includes many meetings and calls.”
Nevertheless, Trump was photographed playing golf at his Florida course near Mar-a-Lago both Thursday and Friday. Reports say he was joined on the course Christmas Day by his close ally, Republican Senator Lindsey Graham.