US Pres. Trump signs four executive orders on coronavirus relief aid

On Saturday afternoon, the President signed a flurry of executive orders on coronavirus relief after Democrats and the White House failed to reach an agreement on a relief bill.

WASHINGTON, Aug. 9 (Xinhua) - U.S. President Donald Trump's orders to extend certain COVID-19 economic relief have sparked sharp criticism from Democrats, who might challenge the legality of the president's executive action.

In addition to the extension of some unemployment benefits, Trump's orders call for a deferral of payroll tax and federal student loan payments and efforts to halt evictions.

Andrew Rudalevige, chair of the Department of Government and Legal Studies at Bowdoin College, told NPR on Saturday that the unemployment benefits measure is particularly controversial because it is "really using appropriated funds by Congress in ways that Congress might not have intended".

Trump calls for using billions of unused dollars from the Department of Homeland Security's Disaster Relief Fund for the unemployment payments. The payroll tax funds Medicare and Social Security, and employees will have to pay the federal government back. "President Obama did not have the power to unilaterally rewrite immigration law with DACA, and President Trump does not have the power to unilaterally rewrite the payroll tax law". "So I think you will see pushback here".

Pushback from lawmakers was swift, and mounted over the weekend.

The Democratic chairman of the tax-writing House Ways and Richard E. Neal of MA, accused Trump of "brazenly circumventing Congress to institute tax policy that destabilises Social Security". "The pen-and-phone theory of executive lawmaking is unconstitutional slop", said Sasse, a member of the Senate's Judiciary and Finance panels.

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Pelosi told Wallace on Sunday that Trump's actions were "meager, weak and unconstitutional".

The Republican leader said before the jobless benefits expired that Senate Republicans "tried several times" to extend them while talks continued, but "Leader Schumer declared that nobody could get help unless all of Democrats' demands were met". "We're going to go ahead with our actions anyway".

The orders would suspend the collection of payroll taxes till December, with people earning upto $100,000/ annum.

Mnuchin said the Trump administration agrees with Democrats on a number of provisions included in both Democratic- and Republican-led stimulus proposals. He warned against potential challengers.

"The concept of saying to states, 'you pay 25% of the unemployment insurance, ' is just laughable", the governor said on Sunday during a coronavirus teleconference with reporters. "Right now the focus, the priority, has to be on. meeting the needs of the American people".

Taken as a whole, Greenstein said the slate of executive orders by Trump "should be should deeply concern all Americans".

Several GOP lawmakers, including Sens.

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"I'm taking action to provide an additional or an extra $400 a week in expanded benefits", the president said.

The four measures were signed after negotiations between his administration and Democrats broke up this week.

They said the measures will cut families' unemployment benefits from the recently expired $600-a-week benefits, exacerbate states' budget crises, and endanger seniors' Social Security and Medicare.

All of the orders-for various but very specific reasons, he said, "fall dramatically short of responding effectively to the enormous need across the country due to Covid-19 and the deep recession".

Democrats, Republicans and White House negotiators had worked all last week without coming close to a deal on a congressional relief bill.

"We were at $3.4 trillion in the bill that Nancy Pelosi and the House Democrats passed twelve weeks ago", Durbin, the current Senate minority whip, told the news outlet, referring to the House Democrat-passed HEROES Act.

"They said absolutely not", Schumer said.

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"I'm confident that every single one of these orders, which cleared through the Office of Legal Counsel, will stand up", Navarro said.

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