Trump doubles down $2,000 coronavirus check demand
Republicans and Democrats both offered mixed reactions to the 11th-hour demand
President Trump doubled down on his demand Friday for increased coronavirus-related stimulus checks to working-class Americans.
Trump again tweeted his demand for $2,000 checks rather than the $600 proposed in the mammoth spending bill approved by Congress earlier this week.
"Made many calls and had meetings at Trump International in Palm Beach, Florida. Why would politicians not want to give people $2000, rather than only $600? It wasn’t their fault, it was China," the president wrote on Twitter. "Give our people the money!"
Trump and other critics of the bill have deemed the bill 5,500 pages of pork-barrel spending rather than an earnest attempt to help struggling Americans beset by gubernatorial economic lockdowns and the overall drop in commerce ushered in by the pandemic.
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"It’s called the Covid relief bill but it has almost nothing to do with Covid," the president said Thursday, going on to point to a provision in the bill that would triple the $600 check for family members of illegal aliens -- to $1,800: "This is far more than the Americans are given," he said.
Libertarians and progressives have also found unusual common ground in their opposition to the legislation. The progressive "Squad" of progressive representatives called for an amendment that provides the $2,000 payments.
Rep. Ayanna Pressley, D-Mass., a member of "The Squad" from Boston, expressed such sentiment in a tweet appearing to praise Trump for taking a "hard line in support of what Progressives have been fighting for." But she called the president the "Occupant of the White House" and accused him of trying to "spite Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.
Trump has been upset with McConnell because of the Kentuckian's reticence to support challenges to the 2020 election tallies.
"Honestly, whatever gets my constituents survival checks," Pressley remarked.
On the other side of the aisle, one of the president's frequent defenders, retiring GOP Rep. Peter King of New York wrote a lengthy Facebook post explaining that the line items in the bill objected to by the president were "specifically requested by the Trump administration."
"You got that -- every item," King wrote. "That includes aid to Egypt, Pakistan, Burma, Sudan and Central America, and funding for the Smithsonian."
"Additionally it was totally deceptive for the president to say that Congress failed to provide assistance to restaurants. The truth is that [Queens Democratic] Congresswoman Grace Meng and I co-sponsored legislation to give direct grants to restaurants but the Trump Administration adamantly refused to assist restaurants."
King and Meng's state of New York, along with Pennsylvania, Michigan, New Jersey, and California among others. has been hit hard by economic "shutdowns" imposed by the state governments, which have in turn crippled the restaurant and entertainment industries.
In his post, King made it clear that he was not intentionally critiquing Trump with his remarks, applauding his fellow New Yorker's record, especially on law and order.
"Believe me I don’t take any satisfaction in pointing out how wrong the President is. I have strongly supported the President and worked hard for his re-election," he said. "I am particularly indebted to him for his outstanding leadership in stopping MS-13’s killing rampage on Long Island, crushing the ISIS caliphate in the Middle East and standing with the police."
King said he felt the need to "set the record straight" after watching Republicans who supported the bill getting attacked by "rabid, uninformed comments."
On Wednesday, Sen. Patrick Toomey, R-Pa., urged Trump to go ahead and sign the $908 billion relief package, echoing King's sentiment that the administration was indeed closely involved in negotiations with Congress.
"We negotiated the bill, and the president’s people were intimately involved every step of the way," the Allentown, Pa., lawmaker told Fox News' "The Daily Briefing." Treasury "Secretary Steve Mnuchin was arguably one of the most involved people in this whole negotiation."
Toomey, a noted fiscal hawk, added that he too has many issues with some of the bill's expenditures.
"There are a lot of provisions I don’t like," Toomey said. "There are provisions that the Democrats don’t like. This is what we were able to get to, and my suggestion would be let’s pass this and get this signed, let's get this into law, and we can have an ongoing discussion about whether there should be additional direct payments or not."
In addition, conservative Rep. Thomas Massie, R-Ky., succinctly summed up what he saw as the overarching issue with the legislation causing the sudden political turmoil:
"I didn’t vote for the bill but I respect the people who did vote for it," he tweeted. "We were given two bad choices. (1) Fund everything or (2) Fund nothing. I hope my colleagues will be forthright and admit that this is legislative malpractice. One bill should cover one topic, not 1,000."
Fox News' Joshua Nelson and Dom Calicchio contributed to this report.