By Ogechi Okorie
Abuja (Precise Post) – United States President Donald Trump on Sunday night made a U-turn and signed the $900 billion (N349.2 trillion) coronavirus relief package.
The action came just hours before a government shutdown, and days after the president opposed the bill over “wasteful and unnecessary items’’.
In a statement, Trump called on Congress to make more amendments to reduce excess spending and expunge the “wasteful items”.
“I will sign the Omnibus and COVID package with a strong message that makes clear to Congress that wasteful items need to be removed.
“I will send back to Congress a redlined version, item by item, accompanied by the formal rescission request to Congress, insisting that those funds be removed from the bill,’’ he said.
The package, approved by Congress on Dec. 21 after months of negotiations, is part of a $2.3 trillion federal government budget.
A key item in the bill is $600 stimulus cheque for American workers earning less than $75,000 per annum.
In a video message on Wednesday, Trump said the bill was called coronavirus relief package, yet there was “almost nothing about COVID-19 in it’’.
“The bill also allows stimulus checks for the family members of illegal aliens, allowing them to get up to $1,800 each.
“This is far more than the Americans are given.
“In spite of all these wasteful spendings, and much more, the $900 billion packages provide hard-working taxpayers with only $600 each in relief package.
“Not enough money is given to small businesses, and in particular, restaurants whose owners have suffered so grievously,’’ the president said.
He urged Congress to amend the bill and increase the “ridiculously low” $600 to $2,000 or $4,000 for couples.
Reports say leaders of the opposition Democratic Party in Congress supported the president’s $2,000 stimulus cheque proposal, but the leadership of the Republican Party rejected it.
In a statement, Senate Majority Leader, Mitch McConnell, lauded the president Trump for signing the Bill and averting a shutdown, which the nation could not afford.
Speaker of the House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi, also reacted to the signing in a statement, describing the $600 package as a “down payment on what is needed to crush the virus’’.
Pelosi said Democrats in the House would hold a meeting on the proposed $2,000 stimulus cheque on Monday.