Earlier this week, the U.S. Congress passed a bipartisan bill with $900 billion in coronavirus relief and additional funds for the federal government. In an unprecedented move, President Donald Trump threatened to veto the legislation, demanding cuts in foreign aid and an increase in stimulus payments.
The move came as a surprise to both Democrats and Republicans on Capitol Hill and, apparently, even to those close to the commander-in-chief. According to a Sunday report from The Washington Post, White House officials have no idea what Trump will do next and it remains unclear if he will follow through on his veto threat.
Trump's own administration initially expressed support for the deal, but Trump's veto threat reportedly turned the White House into a "chaotic" place, with senior advisers "anxiously" awaiting his next move. According to an individual familiar with the matter, even the president's closest advisers are in the dark, since he has not directly addressed the issue.
"Everybody in the White House is trying to figure out what's in Trump's head, if this is a bluff or if he's going to carry this out. He's been confronted with all the facts and evidence. Nobody knows what Trump is going to do. It's a bizarre situation."A source close to Trump told The Washington Post that he has not discussed coronavirus relief in recent days. Instead, the commander-in-chief has allegedly been focused on his doomed attempt to force Republican lawmakers to fall in line and help him overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election.
Republicans have reportedly grown increasingly concerned over the past several days and fear that Trump's sudden decision to "blow up" the bipartisan deal could jeopardize the party's chances of winning the two upcoming runoff races in the state of Georgia and keeping control of the upper chamber.
In an interview on Sunday, Republican Sen. Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania suggested that Trump could destroy his legacy if he vetoes 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 if he allows this to expire," Toomey stated.
Independent Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, meanwhile, blasted the commander-in-chief as "pathologically narcissistic," saying that he must "do the right thing for the American people and stop worrying about his ego."
In a statement released Saturday, President-elect Joe Biden warned that Trump's refusal to endorse the legislation could have "devastating consequences" for the country.
A failure to sign the bill into law would lead to a government shutdown, leaving hundreds of thousands of federal employees without pay. As for coronavirus relief, millions of Americans would lose access to unemployment insurance and other benefits.