PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Unemployment benefits for millions of Americans are set to lapse at midnight. Meanwhile, President Donald Trump is refusing to sign a bipartisan COVID-19 relief package that was all but a done deal before his objections.
The COVID-19 pandemic relief bill had overwhelming bipartisan support and was approved earlier this week, but the president has yet to sign it. With Saturday’s deadline looming, families that depend on unemployment benefits may be affected.
Federal unemployment benefits are scheduled to run out on Saturday. Congress passed the COVID relief bill on Tuesday, but Trump hinted he may not approve it.
“Understand that he is creating disruption in people’s lives,” Pennsylvania Democratic Congressman Dwight Evans said.
Trump alluded to the fact that lawmakers should increase stimulus payments from $600 to $2000.
“He’d rather play political games with every citizen, that’s my view,” Evans said. “Because he would come to the table and sign this initiative. And then if he wants to talk about other things, we can talk about.”
Evans says he backs an increase. Congress will be back in session on Monday for an unusually late December session.
House Democrats plan to hold a full vote on the proposed $2,000 payments. Republicans earlier blocked the effort to add a payment increase.
“It’s our responsibility collectively now to do something about it,” Evans said, “That is, pass the bill, don’t continue giving people uncertainty. And that’s exactly what’s occurring right now.”
There’s also a looming government shutdown on Tuesday, while the moratorium on evictions will expire at the end of the year due to the president’s delay in signing the $900 billion pandemic relief bill.
“He is being counterproductive to the welfare of the people of this country and we should be looking out for the general welfare,” Evans said. “That’s what it says in the preamble of the constitution.”
Right now, there’s still uncertainty on whether Trump will sign the legislation, veto or leave it unsigned.
As for unemployment benefits, those will still end mid-March, but the longer the delay in signing the bill, the more weeks will be cut short.
Eyewitness News reached out to Pennsylvania Sen. Pat Toomey for comment, but. we haven’t heard back.
Meanwhile, President-elect Joe Biden called on Trump to sign the bill as well.
“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 in a statement.
MORE ON CBSPHILLY.COM