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Democrats on Sunday criticized President Trump’s executive actions to provide economic relief during the coronavirus pandemic, arguing the measures were both ineffective and unconstitutional.
Trump signed three memos and an executive order at his Bedminster, NJ, golf resort on Saturday amid negotiations with Congress stalled over a new COVID-19 bailout package.
These measures would extend some federal unemployment benefits, continue to suspend student debt payments, postpone collection of payroll taxes for multiple workers and assign duties to federal officials. consider “resources that can be used to prevent eviction and foreclosure.”
Some lawmakers and experts are expressing concern about the president’s moves to control federal spending, which is the power for Congress.
Andrew Rudalevige, president of the Department of Government and Legal Studies at Bowdoin University, told NPR on Saturday that the unemployment benefit measure is particularly controversial as it “actually uses Congressional appropriation funds according to ways that Congress may not intend. ”
Trump called for the use of billions of dollars unused from the Department of Homeland Security’s Disaster Relief Fund for unemployment payments.
Rudalevige added that he hopes the legal challenges will move “pretty quickly”, citing specific measures related to extracting unemployment and payroll taxes, funding for Social Security and Medicare.
“The president can postpone the payroll tax, but he cannot forgive it,” Rudalevige said. “He talks about ending taxes [if he wins reelection]But that would certainly require a law to do that. So I think you’ll see the opposite reaction here. “
The response from the lawmakers was quick and increased over the weekend. Much of it comes from Democrats, but also from some conservatives.
“Our constitution doesn’t allow the president to act like a king whenever Congress does not legislate,” said Michigan Liberal MP Justin Amash, who left the Republican Party last year to become says an independent person.
Republican Senator Ben Sasse in Nebraska wrote in a statement that Trump has no right to “unilaterally rewrite the payroll tax law.”
“The written and telephone theory about executive law building is unconstitutional,” he said.
But some members of the Trump administration defended the president’s action on Sunday.
White House economic advisor Larry Kudlow responded to Sasse’s comment on the delay of payroll tax on ABC This week. “I appreciate those things, maybe we’ll go to court about them,” Kudlow said. “Anyway, we will continue our actions. Our attorney’s office, the Ministry of Finance believes that this agency has the authority to temporarily suspend tax collection, so we are relying on that.”
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said all actions wiped out the administration’s Office of Legal Counsel. He warns about potential challengers.
“If Democrats want to challenge us in court and keep unemployment benefits for hard-working Americans who lose their jobs because of COVID, they will have to explain a lot of work to do,” Mnuchin said. Fox News Sunday.
Rudalevige told NPR that it was “conceivable” that Congress could sue over the unemployment question, and noted that the House of Representatives sued then-President Barack Obama over spending on the Care Act. Good price.
During an appearance on CNN’s State of the Union On Sunday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., called Trump’s executive actions unconstitutional but ignored a question about whether she sued to block them.
“My constitutional advisers told me they were silly unconstitutional, and it’s a parallel thing,” said Pelosi. “Right now the focus, priority, must be … meeting the needs of the American people.”
Answering a question about whether a future stimulus will invalidate executive actions, White House trade advisor Peter Navarro told NBC’s Meet the press that the president will not need to act if Congress can come to an agreement.
“God and the Fathers created executive orders by quarreling parties and dividing the government,” he said.
Several GOP lawmakers, including Sens. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Lamar Alexander in Tennessee, praised the president for acting but said they preferred a congressional deal in which Alexander urged Democrats to “stop blocking ridiculous proposals. “
Democrat leaders also called for a return to negotiations, saying the president’s measures were unsuccessful.
In a joint statement released Saturday night, Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, DN.Y., called the executive actions “impossible, weak and limited.”
They said these measures would cut families’ unemployment benefits from a recently expired $ 600 a week grant, exacerbating the state budget crisis and jeopardizing for Social Security and Medicare for seniors. And they said Trump’s action ignores important issues such as increasing checks, reopening schools and defending the election.
The leaders urged the Republicans “come back to the table, meet us halfway through and work together to provide immediate relief to the American people.”
Negotiations on Capitol Hill to reach a new COVID-19 bailout bill have stalled, with Republicans and Democrats still trillions of dollars apart after weeks of negotiations.
Schumer said on ABC’s This week that Democrats are ready to compromise their $ 3.4 trillion bill, with Pelosi proposing to White House negotiators that Democrats drop $ 1 trillion and Republicans increase by 1 trillion dollars.
“They said absolutely no,” said Schumer. “I told them, ‘Does this mean your road or the highway?’ And they basically said yes. That’s not the way to make a deal. ”
Both Schumer and Pelosi reiterated on Sunday that they expect talks to continue.
Mnuchin told Fox that Democrats refuse to negotiate on state and local aid and boost unemployment benefits, but on most other issues “we have come to an agreement.”