How Trump Has Jeopardized Stimulus Relief

In order to provide time for the $2.3 trillion package to reach the president’s desk, Congress on Monday approved a seven-day stopgap spending bill, which Mr. Trump signed. That means government funding will run out at the end of the day Monday, although both chambers are scheduled to have a pro forma session and could approve another short term funding bill in the absence of Mr. Trump’s signature on the full-year funding bills.

Mr. Trump did not outright say he would veto the legislation if the changes he demanded were not made, but he may not have to. The legislation passed with the support of well more than two-thirds of both the House and Senate, easily surpassing the threshold required to override a veto if he actually did that.

But a quirk in the calendar has scrambled the rules a bit. Legislation can become law 10 days after the bill is enrolled even without a presidential signature. But because the time frame overlaps with the end of the current Congress on Jan. 3, and the convening of the 117th Congress, a “pocket veto” remains a possibility, said Josh Huder, a senior fellow at the Government Affairs Institute at Georgetown University.

All legislation dies with a Congress, so without Mr. Trump’s signature in the next 10 days, the behemoth legislation would have to be reintroduced and voted on a second time, further delaying funding of the government and providing relief to struggling Americans and businesses.

Republicans have long resisted spending more than $1 trillion on another relief package, but they need Mr. Trump’s supporters to ensure they win two Senate runoff races in Georgia on Jan. 5. Losing both would cost them control of the Senate.

The two Republican candidates in Georgia, Senators Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue, were already proclaiming passage of the coronavirus relief bill as a triumph, but they have also pledged fealty to the president, who called the bill a “disgrace.”

Still, a number of Republicans are likely to resist increasing the amount of direct payments after months of insisting that a relief package should be as small as possible. In the days before a bipartisan deal was struck, Senator Ron Johnson, Republican of Wisconsin, blocked attempts to raise the payments to $1,200.