President Trump has indicated that he will sign the stimulus bill into law before Monday night’s deadline and avert a government shutdown, two people familiar with his plans said Sunday evening, a move that would release $900 billion in stimulus funds as soon as possible.

The people spoke on the condition of anonymity because the matter remained fluid and they weren’t authorized to disclose Trump’s plans. They said Trump had repeatedly changed his mind on the matter.

Trump’s new decision to sign the bill came less than a week after he demanded changes to it and had suggested he would refuse to sign it into law. On Tuesday, he referred to the bill as a “disgrace” but he signaled on Sunday he would sign it after all.

The government was set to shut down on Tuesday if Trump did not sign the bill into law. The spending package also included a new round of stimulus checks, unemployment aid, and small business assistance, among other things.

Trump hinted that there had been a development on Sunday, when he wrote on Twitter that there was “Good news on Covid Relief Bill. Information to follow!”

Congress overwhelmingly passed the bipartisan bill on Monday night, and Trump released a video on Tuesday demanding changes. He said, among other things, that the bill should have authorized stimulus checks of $2,000 per person instead of the $600 payments that Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin had secured. Trump also wanted spending cuts to be included in the package.

Before the video was posted, Mnuchin had said that the stimulus checks could be sent as soon as this week. It’s unclear whether the roughly week-long delay would push back the issuance of the payments.

Trump’s declaration that he wanted changes made to the bill stunned congressional leaders and even many of his own aides. The spending and stimulus bill had been negotiated with Mnuchin and other White House officials, and the treasury secretary had praised the legislation in a Monday CNBC appearance.

Over the weekend, Trump issued a number of tweets appearing to continue his insistence on the $2,000 checks. Approving the checks, however, didn’t seem politically feasible in time to avert a shutdown on Tuesday. Many Democrats were supportive of the idea of larger stimulus checks, but a number of Republicans were opposed. And approving such a change without unanimous consent in one day is not possible.

The consequences of inaction are immense.

If the bill isn’t signed into law by Tuesday, hundreds of thousands of federal employees would be sent home without pay. And even the many federal employees who continue to work because they are deemed “essential,” such as members of the military, will not be paid until a new funding bill is authorized.

In addition to a government shutdown on Tuesday, eviction protections for millions of Americans would lapse later this week; more than 14 million people are losing unemployment benefits; and no stimulus checks would be issued. Failing to sign the bill into law would also freeze new money for vaccine distribution, small business aid, the ailing airline industry, and school aid, among other things.

On Sunday, lawmakers expressed a mix of frustration and fury that Trump had not signaled publicly what he planned to do.

“I understand he wants to be remembered for advocating for big checks, but the danger is he’ll be remembered for chaos and misery and erratic behavior if he allows this to expire,” Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) said on Fox News on Sunday. “So I think the best thing to do, as I [said], sign this and then make the case for subsequent legislation.”

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) on ABC News said the president was behaving as an “extraordinary narcissist” and was almost “pathologically narcissistic” in his eleventh-hour crusade against the bill.

“It is insane. It is really insane, and this president has got to finally . . . do the right thing for the American people and stop worrying about his ego,” Sanders said.
Millions of American families who have lost their jobs during the pandemic and are still struggling have no choice but to await the president’s decision.

Deseree and Matthew Cox have had almost zero income since August, when Matthew was let go from his management job in pest control. His application for unemployment benefits from the state of Florida has never made it through the system’s queue. The $300 per week Matthew, 38, scrapes together driving for DoorDash hardly makes a dent covering bills, rent and food for themselves and their two children with special needs.

The Coxes have depleted their savings and moved from South Florida to the Indianapolis area for cheaper cost of living and to be near family who could help with childcare. But they say they need the extended unemployment benefits, rental assistance, extended eviction moratoriums and direct payments promised by Congress’s stimulus package.

At one point, Deseree, 37, said she couldn’t afford a medication her son needs “just for him to be able to function.”

“People will die without this money,” Deseree said. “People will get evicted. People will not be able to get their medication. To [lawmakers], $600 or $2,000, it seems so little. But to the American people right now, it’s just everything.”

Since the president posted the video on Dec. 22, White House aides have not offered any public briefings on his strategy or plans. Instead, Trump has issued a series of tweets reiterating his demand for changes but not saying much more. Vice President Pence is in Vail, Colo., and has also been out of sight in recent days.

The White House has provided virtually no information about what its plans are to head off the potential economic calamity of a shutdown and the failure of the relief effort. A White House spokesman declined to comment when asked about the president’s intentions. Negotiations between congressional leaders and the administration appear to be at a complete standstill, and a backup plan had not yet materialized as of Sunday afternoon.

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