President Trump is balking at massive legislation that includes $900 billion for coronavirus relief and a $1.4 trillion spending bill, but Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa., thinks Trump should just sign it despite his gripes.
Toomey said that he, too, has problems with the legislation, but enhanced unemployment benefits expired Saturday and he believes the need for relief outweighs any drawbacks.
“Look, if it were just the freestanding government funding bill, I would almost certainly be voting against that, but I think the COVID relief measures are really, really important,” Toomey told “Fox News Sunday.”
Toomey pointed to Americans who have been out of work due to the partial economic shutdown that resulted from the pandemic and the small businesses that are struggling to survive.
“I think we need the extended unemployment benefits. I think we need another round of the loans, which were really grants to small businesses,” Toomey said, noting that “time’s running out.”
The bill calls for $600 stimulus payments to be sent to all Americans, but Trump is now pushing for $2,000 payments even though his White House negotiators signed off on the lesser amount.
“I think what he ought to do is sign this bill and then make the case,” Toomey said. “Congress can pass another bill.”
Toomey said he disagrees with the idea of sending $2,000 checks to all Americans, given that not everyone is suffering financial losses from the pandemic.
“Consider the millions of federal employees who never missed a check,” the senator said. “Their expenses were probably somewhat diminished. Savings rates went through the roof. Why would we be sending several thousand dollars to these folks? This money isn’t sitting on a shelf.”
Toomey then answered questions about Trump’s string of recent pardons. While the senator defended the pardon of disgraced former national security adviser Michael Flynn, Toomey said the others appeared to be a “misuse” of presidential pardon power.
“I think the case of Mike Flynn, for instance, was completely legitimate to pardon him because the [Russia probe] prosecution was abuse of power. I don’t think Michael Flynn ever committed a crime,” he said. “But some of these other cases, I mean, my goodness, we have tax fraud, bank fraud, witness tampering, obstruction of justice, but because they were close to the president they got pardoned.”
Toomey recognized that the pardons were constitutional, but said he believes some of them were “a misuse of the power.”
Flynn pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI in connection with special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe.