Trump executive orders legality, what you should know.
President Trump signed an executive order and issued three memoranda Saturday that undercut ongoing stimulus bill negotiations and could have wide-reaching effects for tens of millions of Americans. Here’s what’s happening now.
Following the failure of Democrats and Republicans to agree on another COVID-19 stimulus package by Friday’s self-imposed deadline, President Donald Trump signed an executive order and issued three memoranda Saturday during a high politicized press conference. Trump went on to say he would provide economic relief during the current recession caused by the coronavirus. The executive actions, however, could face legal challenges and have already been sharply criticized by Democratic negotiators.
“Today’s meager announcements by the president show President Trump still does not comprehend the seriousness or the urgency of the health and economic crises facing working families,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, the top Democrats, said in a joint statement. “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.”
The memoranda cover deferring payroll tax, extending enhanced unemployment benefits (while lowering them from $600 to $400) and assisting with student loans. The federal government would pay 75% of the enhanced unemployment benefit, with state governments taking care of the other 25%, Trump said. He also signed an executive order extending a moratorium on evictions.
The Republican-proposed HEALS Act left negotiators unable to find common ground on many of the same issues Trump targeted in his executive action, including the enhanced unemployment benefits, the eviction moratorium extension and the amount of relief aid offered to state and local governments.
Here’s everything we know about Trump’s orders.
What Trump’s orders include
The four executive actions include:
A $400 weekly unemployment benefit to replace the $600 weekly benefit Americans received under the now expired CARES Act.
Extending the moratorium on evictions. The courts are currently able to process evictions, and tenants may be asked to vacate by Aug. 24.
Assisting with student loan deferral of monthly payments and interest through the end of the year.
Deferring payroll tax payments, starting Aug. 1, retroactively, through December for people earning less than $100,000.
As yet, it’s unclear when the $400 paycheck will go into effect, if it will apply retroactively to July 24, the date the $600 benefit expired under the CARES Act, or if it will face legal challenges that might delay or derail it.
Will Trump’s executive action automatically become law?
It might seem like executive orders from the president are the final word — since the actions aren’t subject to congressional approval — but it’s more complicated than that. The Constitution gives Congress control over federal spending, so Trump doesn’t have the legal authority to issue binding executive orders about how money should be spent during the coronavirus pandemic.
Memoranda differ from executive orders in a few ways, including that they don’t require the Office of Management and Budget to issue a Budgetary Impact Statement.
An executive order can act like a federal law in some circumstances, but Congress can pass a new law to override the executive order. However, that new law would be subject to a presidential veto. This happened in 2019 when Trump declared a national emergency at the Mexico border to fund the wall.