Trump Jets Off to Mar-a-Lago With Covid Relief, Vetoed Defense Budget, and Looming Shutdown Up in the Air

Air Force One Leaves for Mar-A-Lago with Covid Relief, Defense Budget, Gov't Shutdown Up in the Air

Photo credit: Facebook Live

President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump departed the White House on Wednesday afternoon, flying to Florida spend the holidays at Mar-A-Lago while several overlapping crises and critical spending bills remained unresolved.

In the 24 hours before he began his Christmas vacation, Trump had sown chaos by making last-minute demands and lashed out at his ostensible, Congressional GOP allies for allegedly betraying him over the refusal to buy into his false election fraud claims.

On Tuesday night, Trump released yet another Facebook video filmed from within the White House, in which he blindsided the bipartisan team that had negotiated a $900 billion Covid relief bill, demanding last-minute changes before he would sign it. Trump had been completely absent from the deal-making since Election Day, and his 11th-hour ransom-like video killed any chance that the $600 direct payments would reach millions of struggling Americans by early next week. For good measure, Trump then insulted his party’s leadership in the Senate on Twitter after having effectively sandbagged the Senate GOP’s position against larger direct payouts.

Then, on Wednesday, just hours before going wheels up, he followed through on a weeks-long threat by vetoing the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). In the letter explaining the move, Trump said he refused to sign the nearly $800 billion appropriation because the bill did not rollback liability protections for social media companies, effectively nursing a grudge against Twitter and Facebook for having repeatedly flagged his posts for pushing lies and misinformation.

While the Covid relief bill — and the gov’t spending legislation that is was partnered with — as well as the NDAA passed both houses of Congress with strong, veto-proof majorities, Trump’s actions left the federal government in limbo. If the spending extension is not passed by Monday, the government will shutdown. And at least one Senate Republican, South Carolina’s Lindsey Graham, suggested that he would reverse his vote on the NDAA to avoid overriding Trump’s veto.

 

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