After 11 meetings in Congress without an agreement, President Trump decided to sign a series of executive orders on Saturday, Aug. 8, to provide additional financial support to Americans affected by the pandemic.
President Trump told reporters yesterday that his administration worked with good intentions to reach agreement on the next stimulus package with Democratic leaders. He harshly accused House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), arguing that under the guise of the economic emergency caused by the CCP Virus, they are seeking extra funds for certain states and cities that he said are now suffering from poor administration by Democratic leaders and not exclusively from the virus.
President Trump also announced that after negotiations failed, he is prepared to take four concrete actions without Congress: defer payroll tax until the end of the year; improve unemployment benefits until the end of the year; defer student loan payments and forgive interest indefinitely; and reinstate a federal moratorium on evictions.
“If Democrats continue to hold this critical relief hostage, I will act under my authority as president to get Americans the relief they need,” President Trump said yesterday. Today, he kept his word.
Among the signed orders is one of the most eagerly awaited resolutions announcing that an additional $400 per week will be provided to the tens of millions left unemployed during the health crisis. This is $200 less than what was approved when the pandemic began and was paid out until last week.
Both Republicans and many employers have argued that the $600 in aid was a disincentive for unemployed Americans to try to return to work.
President Trump also announced the suspension of payroll tax collection, an idea he has repeatedly raised but was rejected by both Democrats and some of his Republican representatives in Congress.
It will also stop evictions from federally backed rental housing and extend zero percent interest on federally funded student loans.
Pelosi and Schumer on Friday offered to reduce the amount of the proposed CCP Virus aid package from $3.4 billion to $2.4 billion. This would more than double what the Republicans intend to implement ($1 billion).
White House negotiators, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and chief of staff Mark Meadows rejected the offer.
The Democrats had already warned that the executive orders, which were finalized today by President Trump, are legally dubious and would probably be challenged in court.
So it is likely that some of the measures will face legal challenges, since the Constitution gives Congress authority over federal spending.
President Trump also acknowledged that the measures are likely to create some legal challenges. When asked about this at a press conference yesterday, he responded, “They always sue you. (…) They will probably sue us,” although he minimized the seriousness of the issue.