Klobuchar to Trump: Sign the stimulus package into law

U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar is calling on President Donald Trump to back down from his threat to veto the $900 billion stimulus package approved by Congress this week.

The president is making last-minute criticisms of the bill, which his administration negotiated, over the size of the $600 direct checks for Americans. Trump says Congress should pass legislation granting $2,000 payments instead.

"It has actually been Donald Trump’s party that’s been holding that back in the Senate. He needs to deliver on the votes and we can get that done as well," Klobuchar, a Democrat, told reporters in Minneapolis. "Whatever it is, I really can’t waste time trying to figure out what’s in the president’s head."

All 10 members of Minnesota's congressional delegation -- seven Democrats and three Republicans -- voted for the stimulus package this week as it passed overwhelmingly in the House and Senate. The deal had stalled for months before lawmakers attached it to a must-pass resolution funding the government.

In a video posted to Twitter on Tuesday night, Trump leveled criticisms against Congress, calling parts of the bill wasteful.

"Congress found plenty of money for foreign country, lobbyists and special interests while sending the bare minimum to the American people who need it," Trump said in the video. 

Spurred by the president's call for larger stimulus checks, congressional Democrats said they would bring legislation with $2,000 payments.

But Klobuchar said Trump would need to get Republican votes, and questioned whether he still has sway over his party as a lame-duck president.

"We’re more than happy to get that direct payment increased. The Democratic party wanted to go ahead with those," Klobuchar said. "But at the same time, he needs to sign this bill. He has days to do it." 

Besides the direct checks, the stimulus package also extends unemployment benefits, expands the Paycheck Protection Program for small businesses, pays for COVID-19 vaccine distribution, and provides extra funding for schools.

It also includes a Klobuchar-backed Save Our Stages relief effort, directing $15 billion to performing arts venues that have been closed because of the pandemic.

Klobuchar met with several members of the Minneapolis music community Wednesday, each of whom said they needed the relief.

"Knowing at this pivotal time for live music in America that our future looks like it could be secure is just an incredibly humbling experience," said Dayna Frank, the chief executive of First Avenue, the downtown Minneapolis music venue that has been closed since March.

Frank led a nationwide push from concert venues for the relief package.