Live politics updates: Biden bashes Trump’s ‘abdication of responsibility’ on COVID relief bill

Live politics updates: Biden bashes Trump’s ‘abdication of responsibility’ on COVID relief bill

William CummingsSarah ElbeshbishiUSA TODAYAD0:15 

This week, USA TODAY Politics focuses on the run-up to President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration, his remaining Cabinet picks and the effort in Congress to get through a fresh round of COVID-19 economic relief.

Dates to watch:

Jan. 6: Congress will count and certify the electoral results in a joint session. 

Jan. 20: Inauguration of Biden, who will take the oath of office.

Be sure to refresh this page often to get the latest information on the transition.

GOP Sen. Toomey warns Trump 

Sen. Pat Toomey expressed frustration with President Donald Trump’s objections to the COVID-19 relief and government funding bill awaiting his signature in an interview with “Fox News Sunday.” 

“You don’t get everything you want, even if you’re president of the United States,” said the Pennsylvania Republican, who voted for the bill despite his own objections to some of its provisions. 

Trump has denounced the legislation as a “disgrace” for spending he believes is unnecessary and a direct payment to taxpayers of $600 he deems insufficient and would like to see increased to $2,000. Toomey shared some of the president’s spending concerns, but said it was necessary to compromise because Democrats control the House and the COVID relief is badly needed. 

Toomey did not agree the direct payments should be increased, however, arguing the majority of Americans have not lost income during the coronavirus pandemic. He suggested the president could back the separate Democratic proposal to increase the payments to $2,000 rather than rejecting the package that was already agreed upon. 

“We’ve got a bill right now that his administration helped negotiate. I think we ought to get that done,” Toomey said.

He warned Trump’s legacy could be defined by his refusal to sign the bill. 

“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,” Tommey said.

– William Cummings 

Biden decries Trump’s ‘abdication of responsibility’ by not signing COVID relief bill

President-elect Joe Biden sharply criticized President Donald Trump’s refusal to sign the bipartisan stimulus bill addressing the economic consequences of the coronavirus pandemic, calling it an “abdication of responsibility” with “devastating consequences,” in a statement on Saturday.

“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.

As Trump’s criticisms have thrown the future of the relief bill in doubt, temporary unemployment benefits approved in response to the pandemic expired at midnight Saturday.

Biden blasted Trump for allowing the benefits to lapse.

“This abdication of responsibility has devastating consequences. Today, about 10 million Americans will lose unemployment insurance benefits” Biden said. “In just a few days, government funding will expire, putting vital services and paychecks for military personnel at risk. In less than a week, a moratorium on evictions expires, putting millions at risk of being forced from their homes over the holidays.” 

Trump has insisted the bill should increase direct payments to taxpayers from $600 to $2,000 and that it should remove what he says is spending unrelated to pandemic relief. 

– Sarah Elbeshbishi 

Dem candidates rake in $200M in Georgia runoff 

ATLANTA – The Democrats running for Georgia’s two U.S. Senate seats each raised more than $100 million over two months, a massive haul that eclipsed campaign contributions to their Republican opponents and reflects the high stakes of the twin contests.

Jon Ossoff, who is taking on Sen. David Perdue, took in more than $106 million from Oct. 15 through Dec. 16, according to his latest campaign finance report. Raphael Warnock, who is trying to unseat Sen. Kelly Loeffler, was close behind with a little over $103 million.

Perdue reported $68 million over the same two-month span, with Loeffler taking in just under $64 million. Three of the campaigns reported their financial data on Thursday. Loeffler submitted hers a day earlier.

The two races will determine which party controls the Senate – and likely how ambitious President-elect Joe Biden can be with his agenda.

The fundraising figures far surpass the record-shattering $57 million that Democrat Jaime Harrison raised in one quarter in his bid to unseat U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham in South Carolina in November. Harrison lost that race.

And they are in addition to tens of millions of more dollars being spent on the January runoffs by outside groups. Previous campaign finance disclosures for the Georgia races suggest Republican outside groups have a fundraising advantage.

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