Alex Wong/Getty Images Donald Trump
In an attempt to bypass the stalemate in Congress, President Donald Trump signed four executive orders on Saturday that aim to provide continued relief to Americans who are struggling due to the coronavirus pandemic.
While it was unclear how much of Trump’s actions would stand up to constitutional scrutiny, he said he would provide $400 unemployment benefit payments, which is a cut from the $600 benefit that the unemployed had been receiving and is contingent on states chipping in 25 percent.
Trump also said he would defer payroll taxes by a year for people making less than $100,000 a year and extend a moratorium on student loan payments. Trump also stated that his administration “will take all lawful measures to prevent residential evictions and foreclosures resulting from financial hardships caused by COVID-19.”
“That’s generous, but we want to take care of our people,” the president said earlier in the day, while addressing reporters at his New Jersey golf club.
States are expected to cover $100 of the unemployment benefits, but as CBS News noted, it is unclear when the plan would be implemented — or if governors would be willing to provide the weekly sum.
"If they don't, they don't. It's up to them," Trump told reporters at his New Jersey golf club. “That’s going to be their problem. I don’t think their people will be too happy.”
Asked why there had been a decrease from the $600 weekly payments that had previously been going to unemployed workers, which have since expired, Trump replied, “This is the money that they need, this is the money they want, and this gives them a great incentive to go back to work.”
Although decisions about how money is collected and spent typically require approval by Congress, Trump told reporters that he did not believe these orders would be "tied up in court."
"I think this is going to go very rapidly through the courts," Trump said. "If we get sued, it’s somebody that doesn’t want people to get money. Okay? And that’s not going to be a very popular thing."
Gustavo Caballero/Getty President Donald Trump
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer went on to issue a statement, labeling the measures being taken as “meager announcements” that will “provide little real help to families.”
“Today’s meager announcements by the President show President Trump still does not comprehend the seriousness or the urgency of the health and economic crises facing working families,” they wrote in a joint statement, also criticizing the president’s decision to announce his plans during a stay at his “luxury golf course.”
“These policy announcements provide little real help to families,” they wrote. “Furthermore, these announcements do nothing to increase testing, nothing to reopen schools, nothing to put food on the table for hungry families, nothing to prevent heroes being laid off across state and local government, nothing to protect the Postal Service or the integrity of our elections, nothing on many critical needs of the American people.”
Continuing, Pelosi and Schumer wrote: “Democrats repeat our call to Republicans to return to the table, meet us halfway and work together to deliver immediate relief to the American people. Lives are being lost, and time is of the essence.”
The Democratic leaders said on Friday that their offer to reduce the Democrats’ proposed $3.4 trillion relief package by $1 trillion had been rejected by the White House. A proposed plan by Republicans currently has a $1 trillion price tag, although as part of their offer, Democrats asked that the plan’s cost be increased by $1 trillion.
"That's a non-starter," White House Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said on Friday, according to The Hill. He went on to note that despite the lack of agreement in Congress, that Trump was "prepared" to take action on his own.
As of Sunday, there have been over 5 million confirmed coronavirus cases in the United States and at least 161,965 deaths, according to a New York Times database.
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