Sens. Susan Collins and Angus King of Maine were among a bipartisan group of congressional leaders who had pleaded with President Trump for days to sign a $900 billion COVID-19 emergency relief package for unemployed Americans, renters and struggling small businesses.

Their efforts were rewarded Sunday night when the president signed the relief package and government spending bill, averting a federal government shutdown at midnight Monday.

“The President’s decision to sign the bipartisan COVID emergency relief bill into law is welcome news for the American people,” Collins, a senior member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, said in a statement. King also expressed his appreciation.

Trump had declined to sign the relief package while spending the past few days at his private Mar-A-Lago club in Palm Beach, Florida, and playing golf, according to The Associated Press. The president had insisted he wouldn’t sign the measure unless it contained a provision for individual Americans to receive a $2,000 stimulus check instead of the $600 check negotiated by Democrats and Republicans.

Congress overwhelmingly passed the bipartisan bill on Monday night, but Trump released a video on Tuesday demanding changes. In it, he referred to the $900 billion package as a “disgrace.”

Late Sunday afternoon, the bipartisan, bicameral congressional group to which Collins and King belong issued a statement urging the president to either sign the legislation or veto it right away.


“Mr. President, we are asking you to please sign the emergency relief bill. This act will show your support for the American people who are in need of emergency lifelines like food, shelter, unemployment benefits and small business relief during these challenging times,” the group, called the 908 Coalition, said in a statement issued through Collins’ office. “However, if your objection to the COVID-19 relief bill will prevent you from signing, please veto it immediately. You’ve made your position clear and rejecting it quickly will allow those in favor to act before it is too late.”

The group added: “Never before in your personal, professional or political life have you been characterized as a man of inaction. Now is not the time to sit idly by.”

Trump, who came under pressure from members of both political parties, finally gave in late Sunday, and Collins and King reacted.

“The law extends the Paycheck Protection Program I co-authored and allows our hardest-hit small businesses, such as restaurants and others in the hospitality sector, to receive a second forgivable PPP loan,” Collins said in a statement Sunday night.

Collins said funds can be used by small businesses to pay their employees, cover certain overhead costs, and undertake modifications to their businesses that will allow them to comply with public health guidelines.

“The compromise also provides urgently needed housing, nutrition and unemployment compensation to struggling families; appropriates additional funding for testing, vaccine distribution, and provider assistance to our stressed health care system; allocates funding for schools that have been challenged to operate safely in a COVID environment; assists the overwhelmed Postal Service; and provides assistance to our airlines, airports, mass transit, and bus and motorcoach companies that keep our country moving,” Collins added.


Collins noted that the bill fully funds the federal government through September 2021.

“This bipartisan legislation was crafted to provide critical aid for unemployed Americans, struggling small businesses, food banks and expanded vaccine distribution,” King, an independent who caucuses with Democrats, tweeted Sunday night. “We did our job for the American people, and are glad the President finally agreed.”

Collins, a Republican, and Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., formed the 908 Coalition the day after the Nov. 3 election. The “908” refers to the $908 billion framework that they proposed this month and became the foundation of the relief bill that passed Congress last week.

In addition to King, Collins and Manchin, the other members of the 908 Coalition who urged the president to sign the relief package were Sens. Mitt Romney, R-Utah; Jeanne Shaheen D-N.H.; Maggie Hassan, D-N.H.; Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska; Rob Portman, R-Ohio; Dick Durbin, D-Ill.; Bill Cassidy, R-La.; and Mark Warner, D-Va.; as well as Reps. Josh Gottheimer, D-N.J.; and Tom Reed, R-N.Y., who co-chair the Problem Solvers Caucus.

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