Trump heads off to Mar-a-Lago after dropping covid bill grenade – but will he come back?

 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

Donald Trump will once again flee Washington DC to ride out the rest of the year in the warmer weathers of Florida. This time, however, the president may not return.

Mr Trump regularly makes December trips to his Florida golf resort, Mar-a-Lago – which he calls the “White House South” – though this year he will be flying south for the winter amid significantly more controversy and chaos.

The president’s departure from the nation’s capital comes not only while he is openly challenging the results of the election, but also just after pardoning mercenary war criminals and potentially derailing the Congressional coronavirus relief package by demanding it include $2,000 direct payments for Americans.

On top of all that, Mr Trump’s former lawyer, Michael Cohen, told MSNBC there’s a good chance he will just stay in Florida until the election has been settled.

“I would not be shocked if there is no concession speech at all. My theory is that at Christmas time he goes to Mar-a-Lago. I think he will stay there through the inauguration. I would not be shocked if he will not show up to the inauguration either,” Cohen said.

He claimed Mr Trump will hide away in Florida because he does not want to be viewed publicly as a loser.

“He cannot let the camera look at him and basically pull down the curtain and see the wizard standing beside. He is just a loser and it is killing him and, right now, what is going on in the White House is nothing but finger-pointing.”

The night before leaving, Mr Trump released a video to Twitter in which he called the coronavirus relief bill “a disgrace” and advocated for $2,000 direct payments to Americans rather than the much-criticised $600 direct payments included in the current version of the bill. He said he planned to veto the bill.

The $900bn coronavirus relief bill is part of the government’s annual funding legislation, which means that derailing it could cause a government shutdown in the middle of the pandemic.

The president has five days to sign the budget or the government will shut down.

House Democrats have leapt to use the advantage provided by Mr Trump to push a bill that will provide $2,000 direct payments. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said the Democrats will try to pass the bill through unanimous consent, which means only one Republican has to oppose the bill in order to prevent its passage.

By forcing a voice call, the House Democrats are essentially daring Republicans to defy not only Mr Trump, but also publicly take the blame for ensuring Americans are denied an additional $1,400 worth of economic relief.

Democrats and Republicans negotiated the current stimulus for months, with very little progress until the threat of a government shutdown loomed.

During the negotiations, Democrats pushed for a larger relief package, but were stonewalled by Republicans, according to Ms Pelosi.

“In the bipartisan negotiations, Leader Schumer and I repeatedly asked Republicans what would be the highest number the President would accept for direct payments, and they responded with Sphinx-like silence. In the negotiations, they would never go above $600 and in some cases, proposed $500,” she said.

Even if the House can pass the additional funding, it will likely be derailed in the Republican-controlled Senate.

Senator Ron Johnson has already blocked attempts by Senator Bernie Sanders and Senator Josh Hawley to provide direct payments to Americans, claiming it would raise the deficit.

The US military’s budget in 2020 – which Mr Johnson voted to approve – was $738bn.

Even without Mr Johnson’s selective principles, the bill would have to win the approval of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who already rejected the HEROES Act twice. The HEROES Act passed the House in May and would have included another round of $1,200 direct payment to adults.

Instead, Mr McConnell tried to pass a $500bn bill that left out any direct payments to Americans.

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