Sidestepping Congress, Trump issues Executive Orders on coronavirus relief
Washington, DC – Following through on an earlier threat due to stalled negotiations for another round of stimulus for coronavirus relief on Capitol Hill, President Trump issued four executive orders on Saturday designed to continue loan and eviction protections for some, and provide tax relief for most workers making below $100,000 per year.
The first of the executive orders would extend unemployment benefits to $400 a week. Using authority under an existing law, Trump’s order would require states to cover 25 percent (or $100) of the weekly benefits. The extra $400 a week, assuming states choose to participate, would extend through the end of 2020. “This is the money they need, this is the money they want, and this gives them a great incentive to go back to work,” Trump said on Saturday, CNBC reported.
The second order provides for a deferral of payroll tax for employees making under $100,000 between September 1, 2020, until December 31, 2020. Trump’s order raised questions whether the payroll tax relief is even going to happen, and if the President even has the authority to make such a decision. Republican Senator Ben Sasse of Nebraska wrote in a statement that, “President Trump does not have the power to unilaterally rewrite the payroll tax law. Under the Constitution, that power belongs to the American People acting through their members of Congress.” While the order references a disaster law and the President’s ability to defer taxes, it does not guarantee the taxes will ultimately be forgiven. That is something that Congress will likely have to decide between now and the end of the year.
Trump’s third order extended the relief for student loan borrowers with federal loans. The CARES Act, which passed in March 2020, paused all payments for federal student loans, set interest rates at zero percent, and halted the collection of federal student loan debt. Trump on Saturday extended those benefits until December 31, 2020.
The fourth order requires all foreclosures related to the economic fallout of the coronavirus to be halted and applies to people in properties with a federally backed loan. A moratorium under the initial CARES Act expired in late July. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said that the order was “meaningless” without direct rental assistance.
Both chambers of Congress will return to Washington this week, delaying their customary summer recess to continue to try and reach a broader deal that could include additional $1,200 stimulus checks and more unemployment insurance benefits.