Millions of Americans lose unemployment benefits as COVID-19 relief bill stalls

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Jobless benefits for millions expired as President Trump refused to sign a coronavirus relief bill after the House and Senate – following months of negotiations – passed the massive package that includes $600 direct payments to financially devastated Americans.​

Trump has called for Congress to increase the checks to $2,000, but House Republicans torpedoed that proposal when they voted against the provision on Christmas Eve. ​​

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has scheduled a vote on Monday to approve the $2,000 COVID-19 stimulus checks.

Also, without a signature from the president, protections against eviction in the bill will expire on Thursday.​

And, complicating the ​situation even more, the relief bill was paired with a $1.4 federal spending bill passed in a bipartisan congressional effort that would keep the government operating until September. 

Without Trump’s signature, the government will shut down moments after midnight Tuesday. Trump has blasted the massive 5,593-page bill for the stingy $600 payment to Americans and the billions of funds it includes in wasteful spending and foreign aid.

“I simply want to get our great people $2000, rather than the measly $600 that is now in the bill,” Trump tweeted Saturday ​from his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida where he is spending the holiday. “Also, stop the billions of dollars in ‘pork.’”

Later Saturday, he doubled down.

“$2000 + $2000 plus other family members. Not $600. Remember, it was China’s fault!,” he posted Saturday evening on Twitter.

Meanwhile, President-elect Joe Biden urged Trump to sign the bill to send ​much-needed financial aid to the 10 million Americans who lost unemployment benefits and to keep the government operating​, warning of the “devastating consequences.”​

“Delay means more small businesses won’t survive this dark winter because they lack access to the lifeline they need, and Americans face further delays in getting the direct payments they deserve as quickly as possible to help deal with the economic devastation caused by COVID-19,” Biden said in a statement.

The omnibus bill has been sent to Trump’s Florida resort.

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