01:37 GMT20 January 2021
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    Earlier, US President Trump refused to sign the Defence Authorisation Bill, which included COVID-19 pandemic relief measures. He heavily criticized the direct relief payments of $600 per capita, calling it "disgraceful". Trump urged legislators to amend the bill by raising the amount of money to at least $2,000.

    US Senator Bernie Sanders described President Trump’s response to the $900 billion worth COVID-19 relief bill passed in Congress as "unbelievably cruel", as the host of ABC's This Week Jonathan Karl on Sunday noted that Trump had threatened to veto the bill.

    According to Sanders, taking into consideration the “terrible economic crisis facing this country,” the bill as it is now should be passed immediately, though the government in his point of view really should increase the payment.

    "Sign the bill, Mr. President. And then immediately, Monday, Tuesday we can pass a $2,000 direct payment for the working families of this country", Sanders said.

    Earlier this week, Trump denounced the Defence Authorisation Bill for lacking sufficient measures to help mitigate the consequences of the raging pandemic. On Tuesday, the president posted a video address on Twitter, saying that the much-needed bill had "taken forever" to draw up and was "much different than anticipated" when it was put on his desk, as it had "almost nothing to do with COVID".

    The president urged Congress to significantly increase the direct payments package.

    Trump referred to "pork barrel", the metaphor used in American English to characterize government funding of programs that are not among the whole nation's top priorities, but all costs are at taxpayers' expense. 

    On Saturday, President-elect Joe Biden condemned the US president over his refusal to sign the legislation, arguing that Trump has left citizens and businesses in the US without another round of financial aid as a moratorium on evictions is set to expire, thus "putting millions at risk of being forced from their homes over the holidays". 

    However, the left-wing House representatives group "the Squad", known for being the most prominent critics of Trump's policies, have met the president's decision with their full support, as Rep. Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez posted on Twitter that she, and another "Squad" member, Rashida Tlaib, had proposed an amendment for $2,000 relief checks, and they were "glad to see" that Trump was "willing to support our legislation".

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    Tags:
    Steven Mnuchin, Steve Mnuchin, relief, relief aid, coronavirus, COVID-19, Trump, Bernie Sanders, USA, US, US
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