Trump Signs Executive Orders As COVID Negotiations Stall

President Donald Trump speaks at Trump National Golf Club Bedminster in Bedminster N.J. Friday Aug. 7 2020

President Donald Trump weighing executive action to defer payroll tax, enhance unemployment benefits till the end of 2020

House Democrats don't appear to be in any danger of losing their majority, and they say they're in good position to withstand political backlash from Trump accusing them of rejecting half a loaf of unemployment benefits in pursuit of the whole loaf.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer announced at a news conference on Friday that they had offered to "go down a trillion" from their top-line number of $3.4 trillion, if Republicans would go up $1 trillion from their initial offer of $1 trillion.

Trump may be hoping his orders - which he issued from his golf club in New Jersey, where he's spending the weekend - changes the political dynamic around the stalled negotiations.

The GOP's counter-proposal is a $1 trillion HEALS act. Trump signed the $2.2 trillion coronavirus bill, called the CARES Act, into law in March.

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Meanwhile, Pelosi said, "We should do something big".

"We are very disappointed in the meeting".

While critics circulated photos of the crowded golf club ahead of the press conference, some suggesting the gathering violated New Jersey's face covering mandate, Politico White House reporter Meridith McGraw said that masks were handed out to guests shortly before the president's remarks.

The president then ended the news conference. Schumer urged the White House to "negotiate with Democrats and meet us in the middle. What seems to guide them is the idea that the government should spend as little money as possible despite the crisis in America", Schumer said.

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Pelosi did not commit to challenging the orders in court earlier on Friday, telling reporters that she'll "let them know" her next moves if and when Trump signs them. "But it is all that we can do and all the president can do within the confines of his executive power, and we're going to encourage him to do it".

They are also pushing to reduce the $600 unemployment benefits, which expired last month, and want far less aid to local governments than Democrats are seeking.

Before the hastily called news conference began, members of Trump's private club filed inside the room where the president was to speak, a lot of them not wearing masks.

Republican Sens. Mitt Romney of Utah, Susan Collins of ME, and Martha McSally of Arizona introduced a bill on Wednesday that would allow states to either give a $400 or $500 check per week in August in unemployment and scaling down the payment in September to $400 per week, according to CNBC. Almost half of Republican senators say they would oppose any new relief bill at all. Republicans, who control the Senate, want to keep the package under $1 trillion.

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Pelosi said on Tuesday Democrats were still aiming for a $3.4 trillion relief bill, Forbes reported. Four prior coronavirus response bills totaling nearly $3 trillion have won approval on bipartisan votes despite intense wrangling, but conservatives have recoiled at the prospect of another Pelosi-brokered agreement with a whopping deficit-financed cost.

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