Trump shares final Christmas message
Donald Trump has dubbed the making of a coronavirus vaccine a "Christmas miracle" in a video message with first lady Melania Trump.
The first couple posted their final Christmas message on their social media accounts and wished everyone a "very merry Christmas".
In the video, Melania said although this Christmas is different to others because of the "global pandemic" they have been inspired by the courage of Americans.
"Teachers have worked extraordinarily hard to keep our students learning, students have delivered groceries to elderly neighbors, communities have found new ways to stay connected to one another," she said.
"Courageous first responders, doctors and nurses, have given everything to save lives. Brilliant scientists have developed treatments and vaccines."
The president then added the country is delivering "millions of doses of a safe and effective vaccine that will soon end this terrible pandemic and save millions and millions of lives."
"We are grateful for all of the scientists, researchers, manufacturing workers and service members who have worked tirelessly to make this breakthrough possible. It is truly a Christmas miracle," he said.
Commentators have been quick to point out the first couple failed to acknowledge America's death toll from COVID.
It comes after Republicans on Thursday blocked an effort to amend the hard-won pandemic relief package to more than triple direct payments to struggling Americans, something demanded by Mr Trump.
After months of partisan bickering, legislators late Monday finally approved a $900 billion stimulus package to help families and businesses struggling to survive the hit to the economy from the coronavirus before millions lose their benefits.
The legislation includes one-time payments of $600 to most taxpayers, but Mr Trump dropped a bombshell on the celebrations this week, hinting he might veto the bill unless the amount was increased to $2000.
Democrats, who have been pushing for months to increase pandemic support, cheered his statement, and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi challenged Republicans to support an amendment to boost the dollar amount.
The Democratic-controlled House of Representatives held a Christmas Eve "pro forma" session, normally a brief affair with little business, in an effort to win bipartisan approval to send the revised payments to Trump's desk for signature.
But Republicans refused to agree to the change.
"So we do not have unanimous consent," said Michigan Democrat Debbie Dingell, who was acting as speaker pro tempore.
Pelosi immediately lambasted Republicans and vowed to call the House back on Monday to approve the amendment in a regular session.
"Today, on Christmas Eve morning, House Republicans cruelly deprived the American people of the $2000 that the President agreed to support. If the President is serious about the $2000 direct payments, he must call on House Republicans to end their obstruction," she said in a statement.
Later Thursday, Pelosi said the bill has been sent to the White House and called on Trump to sign.
"The House & Senate are now sending this important legislation #ForThePeople to the White House for the President's signature. We urge him to sign this bill into law to give immediate relief to hardworking families!," Pelosi tweeted.
Originally published as Trump shares final Christmas message