President Donald Trump signed several executive orders one day after coronavirus relief talks fell apart in Congress.
Trump signed a memorandum on Saturday to offer $400 a week for new unemployment insurance benefits — down from the $600 incentive that expired on July 31. The executive order will impose a moratorium on evictions, in addition to memoranda allowing for deferrals for student loan payments and establishing a payroll tax exemption for those earning less than $100,000 annually.
“Through these four measures, my administration will provide immediate and critical relief to Americans suffering in this tough period,” the president said on Saturday afternoon following the signing at a news conference in Bedminster, New Jersey.
What legal authority Trump has to enforce the action remains unclear.
Trump called the $400 unemployment compensation — which Democrats had insisted on staying at $600 — “generous.” For others he fought back when asked about the decrease being a “hardship.”
“Well, no, this isn’t a hardship, they need the capital,” he said.
“This is the money they want. And that gives them a great opportunity to get back to work and it’s a lot more than what was initially decided on. The 600 was an amount that was there and as you know, there was a problem with the 600 because it was just a disincentive.”
Asked about the payroll tax exemption, which both Democrats and Republicans criticized and would not help the unemployed, Trump said, “It significantly benefits people. It benefits our country get back and I think anyone who would say anything else is really foolish.
The Democrats, by the way, want it, the Republicans want it, they just can’t get it, they just can’t find an agreement because everybody needs it. And the very important thing is, the people want it and actually the people need it.
Trump said he interfered in the talks, partially because Democrats loaded their bill with clauses that had nothing to do with coronavirus.
He said they requested “bailout money” for “states poorly run by Democrats” and that the bill contained “measures intended to increase voter fraud” and “stimulus checks for illegal aliens.”
Talks on the road to a COVID-19 relief bill collapsed Friday, with both sides abandoning talks citing no tangible progress towards an agreement and no arrangements for a potential meeting.
Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin and Chief of Staff Mark Meadows had been with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer in regular meetings. Mnuchin and Meadows set down a deadline earlier this week for a agreement to be reached by Friday.
Pelosi and Schumer opposed the decision of the president to sign a statement Saturday evening on the executive actions.
“Today’s meager statements by the President demonstrate that President Trump clearly does not grasp the severity or gravity of the health and economic crisis faced by working people,” they wrote.
“We are saddened that, instead of trying to fix America’s problems, the President has opted to sit on his luxurious golf course to make unworkable, poor and narrow policy changes to reduce the unemployment insurance that millions of people desperately need and to jeopardize seniors’ social security and Medicare.”
“These policy decisions are of no practical benefit to families,” they said. “For example, not only does the President’s announcement not necessarily extend the eviction moratorium, it does not offer aid to help pay rent, which would only allow poor families to keep their debts higher.
Instead of passing a bill, President Trump is cutting unemployment insurance for families and driving states deeper into financial problems, forcing them to make drastic cuts to life-or – death programs.
Majority leader Mitch McConnell released a statement after Trump’s signing to celebrate the president ‘s behavior while putting him in the Democrats.
President Trump signed 4 Coronavirus Relief Executive Orders: including $400 unemployment benefits (down from $600), suspension of payroll taxes, and offer federal eviction and student loan relief.
“Weeks earlier, some speculated that Speaker Pelosi and Minority Leader Schumer would probably prefer if the American people did not receive any more bipartisan support before the elections. Sadly, they did nothing to indicate otherwise,” he stated. “I am pleased that President Trump is proving that while Democrats use laid-off workers as political pawns, Republicans are actually looking out for them.”
When asked how fast the relief will get to the Americans, Trump said, “We think it is going to be very quick. We want it to be very soon.”
Pressed on the remarks he made on Friday that he expected to be sued for his actions, he backed up , saying, “What I meant is, people can do whatever they want. I suppose, they could bring legal action. Maybe they won’t. But they will not win. They will not win.
He added, “When we get sued, it is going to be someone who does not want us to get money, and it is not going to be a really common issue.”
Pelosi and Schumer opposed the use of executive orders at a press conference on Friday and said they were committed to talks.
“When the economy begins to lose ground, the only choice is for a strong package, and yet at times yesterday our Republican friends seemed willing to walk away from the negotiating table to do unworkable, weak, and narrow executive orders that would not do the job for the American people,” Schumer said.