After this Friday talks between Democrats in Congress and the White House ended without an agreement on the second economic relief package for COVID-19President Donald Trump said that if a deal is not reached, he will take executive action to extend unemployment benefits to millions of Americans affected by the pandemic until the end of the year.
In a press conference from one of his golf courses in Bedminister, New Jersey, the president explained that the executive action would also include the suspension of the salary tax until the end of this year, the extension of the moratorium on evictions for non-payment of rent and the suspension of the payment of student loans indefinitely.
When talking about unemployment benefits, one of the most disputed points with Democrats, Trump did not specify how much this extra benefit would be, which was previously $ 600 a week.. Democrats want to keep this amount, but Republicans have opposed it, suggesting reducing it to 200 per week.
The extent of Trump’s authority to take these steps is unclear. Its executive orders would be vulnerable to legal challenges, as it is Congress, not the executive, that is responsible for allocating these funds.
“They will probably sue me. But we’ll see, “he said when questioned by a reporter.
Negotiations on Capitol Hill between Congressional Democrats and the White House on the new economic rescue package to alleviate the financial crisis of COVID-19 ended without an agreement on Friday.
The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Democrat Nancy Pelosi, said that the government did not accept a last minute proposal of Democrats to cut the aid package from $ 3.4 trillion to $ 2.4 trillion. The Republican proposal is $ 1 trillion.
“We lowered 1 billion if you add 1 billion. And they responded with an absolute no,” Pelosi said at a press conference before the outcome of the talks was known, accompanied by the minority leader in the Senate, Chuck Schumer.
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin declared: “Unfortunately, we made no progress today.”
With the talks collapsing, he said President Donald Trump is now likely to take executive action to tackle home evictions and student loan debt.
White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows said: “This is not a perfect answer, we will be the first to say that, but it is all we can do, and all the president can do within the limits of its Executive power “.
Mnuchin, who represents the government in the negotiation, said earlier than the Democratic proposal to add $ 1 trillion to the package “not even in discussion”.
This Friday’s meeting was the last opportunity to extend benefits and aid to the unemployed and businesses affected by the economic impact caused by the coronavirus.
The $ 600 weekly aid for those who lost their jobs during the pandemic is one of the points that separates Democrats and Republicans. The former push for the extension of the benefit until the end of the year, while the Government’s plan is to reduce the amount to $ 200.
The negotiations also face the vacations scheduled by the senators and members of the Lower House, who will not be next week. Although congressmen can be called to participate in a session if necessary.
The self-imposed goal by Democratic and government negotiators was to reach an agreement before the end of this week, to vote on the proposal next week, due to the end of financial aid from the first aid package, which has left 25 million people who lost their jobs to the coronavirus without the weekly benefit. This Saturday also expires the aid program for small businesses.
More than 100 billion are also at risk to help reopen schools, a new round of 1,200 direct payments to most people and hundreds of billions of dollars to state and local governments.
Trump attentive to the outcome of the negotiations
Faced with the difficult scenario in which the Democrats and the Government find themselves, President Donald Trump is willing to sign an executive order that solves the deadlock in the negotiations.
According to White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow, “the president is looking very carefully at using executive authority” to push for an extension of benefits for the unemployed, to suspend the payroll tax and tenant evictions, or evictions.
Kudlow told Fox Business that a draft tax suspension “is basically ready” and that he believes Trump will use his executive power to implement that order, which both Democrats and Republicans oppose.
“My Administration is looking at executive action to protect Americans from evictions … as well as additional help for the unemployed. Very importantly, I am also looking at a temporary suspension of the payroll tax,” Trump said Wednesday in a speech. press conference at the White House.