Toomey: Trump risks legacy of ‘chaos and misery’ if he vetoes stimulus

Eric Martin
Bloomberg News

President Donald Trump risks being remembered for creating “chaos and misery” at the end of his term if he vetoes the $900 billion stimulus passed by Congress and triggers a government shutdown, Republican Sen. Pat Toomey said.

The Trump administration helped negotiate the bill, and if the president believes direct stimulus checks should be increased, he should approve the current proposal and return to Congress with a request for more aid, Pennsylvania’s Toomey said on “Fox News Sunday.”

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The $2,000-per-person checks demanded by Trump are too high for people who haven’t lost income as a result of COVID-19, Toomey said, making the case for more targeted aid.

“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 said. “The best thing to do is sign this and then make the case for subsequent legislation.”

Trump has taken no action on the stimulus bill that Congress approved last week, beyond expressing his displeasure with a series of tweets and videos over the past few days.

Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa., questions Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin during a Congressional Oversight Commission hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday Dec. 10, 2020. (Sarah Silbiger/The Washington Post via AP, Pool)

Surprise decision: Criticism of the legislation took lawmakers by surprise since it was developed with members of Trump’s administration — notably, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.

“Everybody assumed, everybody, that Mnuchin was representing the White House,” Senator Bernie Sanders, an Independent of Vermont, said on ABC’s “This Week.”

Sanders has advocated $2,000 checks to help Americans cope with “economic crisis,” but he urged Trump not to hold up the current bill, which was passed by sizable bipartisan majorities in the House and Senate.

“What we need to do is have the president sign that bill today, right now. Or else the suffering of this country will be immense,” Sanders said.

Hopeful sign: Trump hasn’t said explicitly that he’ll veto the measure, which Toomey said he viewed as a hopeful sign. The legislation has been delivered to Trump at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida. Trump headed to his nearby golf course Sunday morning.

The stimulus bill is in addition to a $1.4 trillion omnibus spending bill to fund the federal government, which without Trump’s signature is at risk of closing down early this week.

Democrats plan to vote Monday on new legislation to codify the $2,000 payments for most American adults and children, which is opposed by many Republicans. They also could vote on another stopgap measure to fund the government past the current spending deadline of midnight that day.