Trump asks Congress to add more funds to stimulus, Bridge Cards get more access, Nassar judge criticized

In a blistering response to the COVID-19 relief bill approved by Congress, President Donald Trump called the $600 to Americans "ridiculously low" and is urging a $2,000 payment per taxpayer or $4,000 for a couple.

Trump threatened to veto the bill because of the payments and chastised lawmakers for wasteful spending that accompanied the $900 billion bill, saying that it includes aid for foreign countries and little addressed financial hardships brought on by COVID-19.

"Congress found plenty of money for foreign countries, lobbyists and special interests. while sending the bare minimum to the American people who need it. It was not their fault, it was China's fault," Trump said. "I am asking Congress to amend this bill and increase the ridiculously low $600 to $2,000 or $4,000 for a couple. I am also asking Congress to immediately get rid of the wasteful and unnecessary items from this bill."

He has a surprising ally in the call for more money: Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi.

The California Democrat blamed Republicans in the House and Senate for not meeting Democrats with more funds for the American people.

"Republicans repeatedly refused to say what amount the President wanted for direct checks," she posted on Twitter. "At last, the President has agreed to $2,000 — Democrats are ready to bring this to the Floor this week by unanimous consent. Let’s do it!"

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Trump said there were billions spent on foreign aid:

  • $85.5 million in aid for Cambodia
  • $134 million to Burma
  • $1.3 billion to Egypt and the Egyptian military.
  • $25 million for democracy and gender programs in Pakistan.
  • $505 million to Belize, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua and Panama. 

"Despite all of this wasteful spending and much more, the $900 million package provides hard-working Americans only $600 in relief and not enough money is given to small businesses and in particular restaurants whose owners have suffered so grievously," Trump said. 

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, a key negotiator, said on CNBC Monday that the direct $600 stimulus payments would begin arriving in bank accounts next week. American adults who earn less than $75,000 will receive the full $600 check, while couples who earn less than $150,000 will receive $1,200, with payments phased out for higher incomes.

An additional $600 payment will be made per dependent child, similar to the last round of relief payments in the spring.

The 5,593-page legislation — by far the longest bill ever — came together Sunday after months of battling, posturing and postelection negotiating that reined in a number of Democratic demands as the end of the congressional session approached.

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Michigan extends Bridge Card options

Michigan families in need are getting expanded options to use their Bridge Cards after the state authorized the food assistance cards to be used at restaurants in the state.

The authorization gives people who are 60 and over, disabled or struggling with homelessness to option to use their cards at restaurants. It also will hopefully provide a boost to those restaurants amid the COVID-19 shutdown of indoor dining.

"No Michigander should worry about how to put food on the table for themselves and their families, especially during a pandemic," Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said. "This partnership with our restaurants will ensure people across the state have the support they need this winter."

Restaurants first must enroll with the department, which will publish an online list.

Judge in Nassar sentencing criticized for sentencing language

Judge Rosemarie Aquilina has been criticized by a Michigan appeals court for the way she sentenced Larry Nassar but the sentence will not be changed as she stayed within the guidelines of the agreement. 

The state appeals court ruled on Tuesday that Judge Aquilina's comments were "wholly inappropriate" but did not violate his rights.

Judge Rosemarie Aquilina (L) looks at Larry Nassar (R) as he listens to a victim's impact statement by Jennifer Rood Bedford prior to being sentenced after being accused of molesting about 100 girls while he was a physician for USA Gymnastics and Mic

Nassar was a doctor at Michigan State University and at USA Gymnastics, which trains Olympians. In 2018, Aquilina sentenced him to at least 40 years in prison after listening to more than 150 victims describe how he had molested them with his hands while they sought help for injuries. Nassar is also serving decades for federal child pornography crimes.

The judge praised each victim and called Nassar a "monster" who is "going to wither" like the wicked witch in "The Wizard of Oz."

"Our constitution does not allow for cruel and unusual punishment," Aquilina said. "If it did, I have to say I might allow what he did to all of these beautiful souls, these young women in their childhood. I would allow someone or many people to do to him what he did to others."

Appellate court judges Thomas Cameron and Michael Gadola said, "The sentencing judge’s statement was wholly inappropriate."

"Although the comments should not have been made, the judge’s comments did not indicate the existence of actual bias or prejudice," the court said.

Mild Wednesday but a polar plunge is coming for Christmas