Trump vows executive actions on emergency coronavirus relief
US President Donald Trump has been signalling for days that he could take action on prolonging the current evictions relief and also extending enhanced unemployment benefits.
Washington - US President Donald Trump on Thursday said he is ready to invoke executive powers to bypass a squabbling Congress and maintain emergency assistance for Americans suffering from coronavirus-induced economic pain.
"I've notified my staff to continue working on an Executive Order with respect to Payroll Tax Cut, Eviction Protections, Unemployment Extensions, and Student Loan Repayment Options," Trump tweeted.
Upon departing the Oval Office for Ohio, I’ve notified my staff to continue working on an Executive Order with respect to Payroll Tax Cut, Eviction Protections, Unemployment Extensions, and Student Loan Repayment Options.— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 6, 2020
Earlier, he confirmed to radio host Geraldo Rivera that he would take the unilateral step for evictions protection.
"I'm going to, yeah, I'm going to," he said. "I will be doing it on evictions."
Trump, down in the polls against Democrat presidential challenger Joe Biden, has been signalling for days that he could take action on prolonging the current evictions relief and also extending enhanced unemployment benefits.
This is in response to continued failure by his Republican party and the Democrats in Congress to come up with a new overall aid package.
Congress has spent weeks tussling over an approximately $1 trillion proposal from the Republican-controlled Senate and a more than $3 billion package put forward by the Democrats in the House of Representatives.
On Thursday, Trump's chief of staff, Mark Meadows, told reporters there was still no deal.
"We continue to be trillions of dollars apart in terms of what Democrats and Republicans hopefully will ultimately compromise on," he told reporters.
Trump is proposing to use his presidential authority to extend both the temporary evictions protections and the extra money for the unemployed that were provided in an earlier stimulus package, known as the CARES Act. Both items have now expired.
He also wants to push through a payroll tax cut, but has found little support in Congress.
Republicans in Congress have insisted on reducing the additional unemployment funds to $200 a week, while Democrats want to keep to the previous level of $600.
It is not clear how much authority Trump has, with Congress controlling the budget, but the president is keen to ramp up his use of executive orders ahead of the November election.
Polls show a large majority of Americans do not approve of his handling of the coronavirus pandemic and the badly damaged economy has robbed him of his central reelection campaign theme.
On Wednesday, Meadows said Trump would act as early as Friday "if we haven't made significant progress and we're just too far apart."
"The good news for your viewers is if Congress can't get it done, the president of the United States will," he told CNN.