Pelosi, Schumer Say They're Still Willing to Negotiate on Relief Deal

Daniel Fowler
August 9, 2020

Ben Sasse (R-NE), have railed against Trump's move to bypass Congress in issuing executive orders that raise a host of new questions for unemployed Americans and are likely to prompt lawsuits.

"Maybe we're going to go to court on them". The employment department says it has paid unemployment benefits to more than 350,000 Oregonians since the middle of March, when the state's pandemic shutdown began. "We're disappointed that instead of putting in the work to solve Americans' problems, the President instead chose to stay on his luxury golf course to announce unworkable, weak and narrow policy announcements to slash the unemployment benefits that millions desperately need and endanger seniors' Social Security and Medicare".

Trump's move to take relief measures out of the hands of Congress drew immediate criticism from some Democrats.

"Well, the fact is, is that whether they're legal or not takes time to figure out".

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Kentucky Republican, however, welcomed the president's actions, blaming Democrats for sabotaging talks on the relief bill.

The other three actions he signed include a memorandum on a payroll tax holiday for Americans earning about $100,000 a year or less, an executive order on "assistance to renters and homeowners" and a memorandum on deferring student loan payments.

As White House officials and Democratic lawmakers remain deadlocked over the new relief bill, Trump signed four actions on Saturday, trying to move around Congress and assert executive power.

Trump initially played down the disease's threat and has drawn criticism for inconsistent messages on public health steps such as social distancing and masks.

He spoke to reporters on Saturday at his New Jersey golf club, in a room that featured a crowd of cheering supporters.

Trump signs coronavirus relief orders after talks with Congress break down
Democrats and some Republicans - notably, Senator Ben Sasse of Nebraska - have termed Trump's actions unconstitutional. Separately, on CNN's "State of the Union", she said that "of course there's room for compromise".

This comes after the White House officials and congressional Democrats ended almost two weeks of talks over the fiscal aid on Friday, with the two sides still about $2 trillion apart.

Democrats and Republicans are trillions of dollars apart on overall spending and on key issues, including on aid to state and local governments and the amount of supplementary unemployment benefits.

White House negotiators Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Chief of Staff Mark Meadows rejected the offer.

A fourth measure - opposed by many Republicans as well as Democrats - orders a freeze in payroll taxes.

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".

"My constitutional advisers tell me they're absurdly unconstitutional, and that's a parallel thing", Pelosi said. "Hopefully, we can do something with them at a later date".

Mnuchin went on to warn Democrats against lawsuits challenging Trump's executive orders, framing potential legal challenges as an attack against unemployment benefits.

Trump has managed to sidestep Congress on spending before, declaring a national emergency on the U.S. -Mexico border to shift billions of dollars from the defense budget to pay for a wall he promised during his 2016 election campaign. "I believe President Trump would prefer the same".

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