GOP MP Tom Reed told CNBC Thursday that President Donald Trump’s last-minute opposition to the coronavirus aid package approved by Congress earlier this week is hurting the struggling Americans.
The $ 900 billion bill, coupled with a government funding measure, was passed with veto-proof majorities in both the House of Representatives and the Senate. But on Tuesday night, Trump attacked the package as a “disgrace” and called for numerous changes, including direct payments of $ 2,000 instead of $ 600.
“If you bring up these last-minute issues like that, it’s very worrying,” Reed said on Squawk Box, before his Republicans blocked a move to raise direct payments to $ 2,000. “I understand the president’s frustration … but blind people, and doing this at the last minute, is not conducive to me because the American people are the ones who are losing in this fight.”
Trump has not said whether he will officially veto the bill or not sign it instead. If he took the latter route, the bill would die and no action on an aid package could be taken until the next session of Congress on January 3rd.
The $ 900 billion package would extend an expansion of unemployment benefits in the pandemic before it expires on Saturday. The provision covers 12 million people. The government could also close on Monday if the $ 1.4 trillion piece of legislation is not signed by then.
Trump’s criticism of the bill focused in part on spending on foreign aid, which was contained in the larger state finance division.
Reed, a New York Republican co-chair of the non-partisan Problem Solvers Caucus, said he recognized Trump’s concerns about foreign aid. However, he said they should not be distracted from the need to provide economic aid to Americans affected by the pandemic.
“The people we negotiated that $ 900 billion for are waiting for that relief,” Reed said. “There are people who are hired on Monday waiting for the paycheck protection program. Tens of thousands of people are going back to work. I beg the President: Please think of these people.”
Minority leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., Is expected to propose a new temporary spending bill that would separate State Department funding and foreign aid from the larger spending package. Democrats would likely oppose this plan.
“We should focus on where we can agree – $ 900 billion in emergency aid … must go out today. We all agree. We worked on it. We found common ground,” Reed said. “With the idea of increasing the checks, we may be able to take care of it later.”
Rep. Josh Gottheimer, Reed’s co-chair of the Problem Solvers Caucus, agreed. The New Jersey Democrat said it supports the idea of bigger stimulus checks but does not want a delay in the current deal.
“We worked so hard to bring this package together and bring Democrats and Republicans on board,” Gottheimer said in the same “Squawk Box” interview. “We should get this law signed and then add more … but there is no point in blowing it up and hurting people and undermining all parts of this law that are so critical.”
The White House did not immediately respond to CNBC’s request for comment.