Joe Biden, the president-elect of the United States, has urged Donald Trump to sign into law an $892bn COVID-19 funding and relief bill that would provide much-needed support to Americans hit hard by the virus and an economic downturn caused by the pandemic.
In a written statement on Saturday, Biden, who is set to take office on January 20, accused the outgoing president of an “abdication of responsibility” that could have “devastating consequences”.
“It is the day after Christmas, and millions of families don’t know if they’ll be able to make ends meet because of President Donald Trump’s refusal to sign an economic relief bill approved by Congress with an overwhelming and bipartisan majority,” Biden said.
“This bill is critical. It needs to be signed into law now.”
Trump stunned Republicans and Democrats alike when he said this week he was unhappy with the massive bill, which provides a one-time $600 payment to US citizens earning less than $75,000 a year and extends unemployment benefits that expire at the close of December 28.
Without Trump’s signature, about 14 million people could lose those extra benefits, according to Labor Department data. A partial government shutdown will also begin on Tuesday, as the bill comes attached with $1.4 trillion in normal government spending. This could put millions of government workers’ incomes at risk, unless Congress can agree to a stop-gap government funding bill before then.