Lamont: Trump’s threat to veto COVID relief is ‘erratic behavior’
Gov. Ned Lamont said Wednesday that President Donald J. Trump’s unexpected suggestion Tuesday night that he might veto the bipartisan $908 billion pandemic relief package was “erratic behavior” and “really dangerous right now.”
“Don’t do that. Don’t do that in this holiday season,” Lamont said. “We really need you to be steady and give our small businesses this opportunity.”
Lamont, who generally refrains from joining in some of the sharper criticism other Democrats level at the president, was unusually blunt about Trump during the second of his televised, twice-a-week COVID-19 briefings.
“Where were you, Mr. President? They’ve been negotiating this for the last month. Don’t come in after the fact and pull the rug out from under. It’s really dangerous,” Lamont said.
Trump suggested he might veto the bipartisan package in a video on Twitter.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 23, 2020
The pandemic relief measure offers significant assistance to small businesses, with extra help to hard-hit restaurants, as well extended unemployment benefits and direct payments of $600 to every adult who earned no more than $75,000 and dependents under age 18.
A married couple with two dependent children can expect a check for $2,400 in the next week — if the president doesn’t veto the bill. Trump suggested that the $600 payment be increased to $2,000 and compared them against foreign aid and other portions of the omnibus spending bill adopted with the relief measure.
The foreign aid spending, about 1% of all federal spending, should not have come as a surprise to the president.
The $1.4 trillion omnibus bill provides money to fund the federal government for the rest of the fiscal year that runs through September. Tucked into the bill are tax breaks for special interests, such as the beer industry, the Washington Post reported.
Connecticut still was evaluating the relief bill, but Lamont said it appears that Connecticut could be due for $250 million in relief for renters and landlords. The state’s congressional delegation estimates the total funds going to Connecticut residents and businesses at about $9 billion.
Lamont said the aid could allow small businesses to plan for coming months, a much-needed measure of stability. “Look,” he said, “I come out of small business. You need to be able to count and plan for things a little bit going forward.”
Lamont spoke at a midday briefing, which was delayed by President-elect Joe Biden’s introduction of Connecticut’s education commissioner, Miguel A. Cardona, as his choice for U.S. Secretary of Education.
Lamont reported that Connecticut’s COVID data continued to stabilize after a spike he attributed to Thanksgiving travel. Lamont said there were 1,745 new cases, or 6.08% of the 28,699 tests returned Wednesday. Hospitalizations increased by four to 1,155 and deaths rose by 33 to 5,736.
Connecticut has had a daily case rate of 54.1 per 100,000 people over the past seven days, compared to per-capita rates of 64.7 for the U.S., 61 for New York, 64.8 for Massachusetts, and 80.2 for Rhode Island, according to daily tracking by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The highest rates were 127.9 in Tennessee and 111.2 in California.
But Connecticut had significant hotspots, with Danbury, East Hartford, Hartford and Waterbury all with per-capita rates exceeding 100, according to the state Department of Public Health.
“I’m always trying to find themes. We did have a little poke up after Thanksgiving. It wasn’t unexpected. We knew that there was a lot of travel going on. And things have calmed down and stabilized,” he said. “But we are coming into a couple of days — Christmas, New Year’s — worried about what that could be.”
Lamont cautioned against air travel and urged residents to celebrate the holidays with immediate family. The governor said he is celebrating Christmas with his wife, their three children and their oldest daughter’s fiancé.
The governor said he saw “no need for additional restrictions or anything. I think we found that we’ve got some stability right now.”
Connecticut currently is under restrictions that require the wearing of masks, social distancing and self-quarantine after travel to most of the United States. Indoor dining at restaurants is limited to 50% of capacity, as is patronage at retailers.
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