With Congress at an impasse over pandemic relief talks, President Trump is trying to provide some relief himself.
What’s his plan?
Mr. Trump announced four executive orders on Saturday that would aim to provide economic relief for those affected by Covid-19. One order would revive the weekly unemployment benefits program that stopped last month, only this time around it would be a sum of $400 per week (down $200 from previous benefits). Another order would pause student loan payments and interest until December 31st. The other two would defer payroll taxes for those who make less than $100,000 a year and direct efforts to stop evictions that have already begun for many people. Notably, they did not include other forms of relief that were in previous packages, including lump-sum payments to individuals.
What about Congress?
Congress has been stuck in negotiations over the Democrats’ $3 trillion relief package and the Republicans’ $1 trillion package. After two weeks of unfruitful meetings between top Democrats and Trump officials, the president decided to take matters into his own hands.
Is he allowed to do that?
The jury is still out, but it is almost certain that the executive orders will be challenged in court since it is Congress’s job to control the federal budget. Mr. Trump defended his decision by saying that he did what was necessary to avoid the roadblocks of “partisan bickering and divided government.”
What are people saying?
Many people on either side of the aisle are unhappy with Mr. Trump’s recent decisions, in particular governors. Under the executive orders, each state would be required to pay 25% ($100) of the unemployment benefits. This comes at a time when tax revenues have plummeted, and state budgets are already being impacted by the need for testing and sanitizing schools. Gov. Ned Lamont (CT-D) said that the proposal would end up costing Connecticut nearly $500,000 by the end of the year. He noted that these funds had to come from somewhere but pulling them from testing for Covid-19 or for disinfecting schools was not “a great idea. In fact, I think the president’s plan is not a great idea.” A spokesperson from the National Governor’s Association said on Monday that the measures would be an unfunded mandate and therefore impossible to deliver on.