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Lame Chicken: Trump Makes Mess, Signs Coronavirus Relief Bill Late

Evidently realizing his pretense of “negotiating” by shouting radical demands after the real negotiators in Congress have sealed their deal, Donald Trump yesterday signed the $900-billion coronavirus relief plus federal budget package Sunday night. Trump caved just in time to avert a government shutdown and an embarassing post-holiday stock market dip (futures did rise right away) waited just long enough to cheat fourteen million Americans out of a week’s worth of public assistance:

But his delay in signing the package has cost millions of Americans a week of unemployment benefits, as two pandemic-related programs expired Saturday.

In a statement Sunday night, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., alluded to those expired benefits.

“The signing of the bipartisan, bicameral coronavirus relief legislation is welcome news for the fourteen million Americans who just lost the lifeline of unemployment benefits on Christmas Weekend, and for the millions more struggling to stay afloat during this historic pandemic and economic crisis,” she said [Benjamin Swasey and Barbara Sprunt, “Trump Signs Covid-19 Relief Deal After His Criticism Threatened to Derail It,” NPR, 2020.12.27].

Trump drew red lines through a number of spending items, many of which he himself proposed:

‘I will send back to Congress a redlined version, item by item, accompanied by the formal rescission request to Congress insisting that those funds be removed from the bill,’ Trump said in the statement.

Additionally, many of the spending items in the federal budget that Trump wants cut were in his original budget request to Congress earlier this year [Katelyn Caralle, Emily Goodin, and Valerie Edwards, “Top Dem Slaps Down Trump’s Demand for Covid Package Spending Cuts…,” Daily Mail, updated 2020.12.28].

Trump is also claiming his signature comes with the assurance that Congress will now get to work in boosting the individual coronavirus relief checks to $2,000, repealing Section 230 of the Communciations Decency Act, and investigating election fraud. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is signaling those items will go nowhere:

McConnell released a statement applauding Trump’s signing the $900 billion relief and funding package but made no mention of the three items Trump claimed he was getting the Senate to do.

‘I thank the President for signing this relief into law, along with full-year government funding legislation that will continue the rebuilding and modernization of our Armed Forces that his Administration has championed. His leadership has prevented a government shutdown at a time when our nation could not have afforded one,’ McConnell said.

‘I am glad the American people will receive this much-needed assistance as our nation continues battling this pandemic,’ he added [Caralle, Goodin, and Edwards, 2020.12.28].

Senator John Thune, evidently still recovering from a brisk post-Christmas pheasant hunt, has not tweeted any comment on the White House’s surrender. Senator Marion Michael Rounds and Representative Dusty Johnson are still sleeping in for Christmas, though they need to go to the office today to override the veto of the National Defense Authorization Act and stop Trump from defunding the troops.

Trump tried to play one last game of chicken with Congress. The lame chicken lost, but not without creating more of the chaos and personal headlines he craves.

Lame Chicken Trump: photo by Ted Eytan, Washington, DC, 2017.04.15.
Lame Chicken Trump; photo by Ted Eytan, Washington, DC, 2017.04.15.

Update 10:28 CST: Politico‘s Playbook says the great deal-artist “got taken to the cleaners” in this “embarassing episode”:

WHAT A BIZARRE, embarrassing episode for the president. He opposed a bill his administration negotiated. He had no discernible strategy and no hand to play — and it showed. He folded, and got nothing besides a few days of attention and chaos. People waiting for aid got a few days of frightening uncertainty.

ZIP. ZERO. ZILCH. If he was going to give up this easy, he should’ve just kept quiet and signed the bill. It would’ve been less embarrassing.

…THIS IS PROBABLY THE MOST FITTING coda to TRUMP’S presidency, and a neat encapsulation of his relationship with Congress. He never cared to understand the place and was disengaged from its work [Jake Sherman and Anna Palmer, “Politico Playbook: Trump Got Nothing,” Politico, 2020.12.28].


  1. Dicta 2020-12-28

    I wouldn’t have an issue with Trump’s stance here if he wasn’t redlining his own White House proposals. But, as with most things Trump, this isn’t about principle or standing up for something, but about trying to make himself look good. And, of course, many people are just lapping up his hard stand despite the fact that he is taking a hard stand against his own administration. It’s all kabuki theater at this point.

  2. Loren 2020-12-28

    What a clown show. And Mitch has the audacity to claim, “His leadership has prevented a government shutdown at a time when our nation could not have afforded one.” IT WAS TRUMP’S pending SHUTDOWN. And who is the tall guy behind this purveyor of bovine excrement? Or boy Johnnie! I’d love to grab Slim by the neck tie, look him right in the eye and have him explain to me how his SD upbringing, the down to earth common sense, integrity, responsibility… allows him to shovel this crap. He is a pretty boy, but a chameleon. Right now, I wouldn’t trust Johnnie to tell me the sun rises in the east!

  3. sx123 2020-12-28

    Congress has been dinking around for months. I’m not a Trump fan, but congress is the real sh*tshow.

  4. bearcreekbat 2020-12-28

    Congress is not the problem. Elected individuals that have the power to prevent Congress from taking positive action are the problem. These days the biggest obstacle to getting things done seems to be a Republican Senate majority and in particular, the individual who can deny Senators the right to even vote on bills passed by the House as well as bills proposed in the Senate.

    Calling “Congress” the problem is wide of the mark.

  5. mike livingston 2020-12-28

    As always it is about the money stupid, LOSER Lame Chicken wants to remove section 230 of the Communications Decency Act.

    As someone who holds so called social media in disdain I don’t have a dog in this fight.

    He wants to go unchallenged when espousing his dishonest and libelous rants of hatred and derision. That’s the way I see it anywho.

  6. leslie 2020-12-28

    Dec 26
    “If the votes of all seven contested states are registered as zero, President Trump will have 232 votes, and Joe Biden will have 222.***

    VP Pence has been sued by Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Tex.), Kelli Ward and other GOP mbrs in a far-fetched bid to overturn Biden’s win.
    Plaintiffs ask Judge Jeremy Kernodle, a Trump-appt’d fed judge in Texas, to find that Pence is authorized to pick pro-Trump electors on Jan. 6….”

  7. mike livingston 2020-12-28

    What is your point leslie?

  8. Moses6 2020-12-28

    So our elected reps Make around 14 grand I am thinking a month .How much does Thune boy make for leadership.If these guy decide we can not get the people two grand it is pretty low of them.While these two senators give tax breaks to the very rich with tax cuts other people suffer.Photo op and slick Mike need to help the people. 600 dollars how far is that supposed to go, especially in low wage South Dakota.

  9. leslie 2020-12-29

    Like ditca and bear said. Kabuki theater of horrors.

  10. Richard Schriever 2020-12-29

    sx 123 – “Congress” is an over-generalization and distortion of the reality that it has been ONE member of that august body – from the state of Kentucky, with a wife in the Administration, who has been “dinking around” for many many years now.

  11. Eve Fisher 2020-12-29

    Just a reminder that the House passed a coronavirus relief package of $3 Trillion in May, 2020. They passed another one in October, 2020. Both times Mitch McConnell refused to even allow it on the floor of the Senate. It’s not the Democrats’ fault that there hasn’t been a relief bill before now.

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