Trump’s executive alternatives to proposed relief bill widely assailed. Negotiators anticipate legislative talks will resume.

By Alexis Simendinger and Al Weaver

President Trump didn’t satisfy either party with his quartet of administrative and executive actions signed on Saturday and intended to fill a void created by Capitol Hill negotiators who have thus far failed to agree how to help millions of Americans who have no jobs, incomes or safety nets during a pandemic.

On Sunday, Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin signaled their willingness to return to the bargaining table this week (Reuters). Senate Minority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) told NBC News that Democrats whittled a proposed price tag down to “the range of $2 trillion” from $3.4 trillion, while Republicans want $1 trillion. “We’ve asked them to come up a trillion [dollars],” Durbin added.

Bloomberg News: Mnuchin rejects Pelosi’s offer to come down $1 trillion as a “non-starter.”

The president’s actions, announced at his country club in New Jersey, were immediately described by legal and legislative experts as ineffective and administratively cumbersome substitutes for extensions of law that could immediately revive federal unemployment benefits that expired last month, suspend rental evictions during the pandemic and offer relief to people with mounting college loan debts.

The actions offered no lifeline to state and local governments, whose budgets are in shambles, or small businesses that remain desperate to weather the crisis and stay open. And they offered no help to jittery school systems, which the president continues to argue should open for in-person instruction.

Trump was also faulted for ordering a temporary halt to the collection of payroll taxes that support Social Security and Medicare. The president has for months tried to cut payroll taxes, which in his calculus would benefit Americans who are still working. The president asked Congress to enact the change in relief legislation but was rejected by both parties. Under the new executive policy Trump unveiled, employers can suspend a portion of the tax, but employees would have to come up with the money to repay it next year.

Trump assured Americans that his unilateral actions “will take care of pretty much this entire situation,” an assertion countered by legal analysts. “It’s a Band-Aid on an open wound,” University of Chicago Law School professor Daniel Hemel told The Washington Post on Sunday, expanding on his tweets.

Trump “can do it, legally, but to provide real lasting relief he needs help from Congress — and if anything, he made that less likely,” he said. “Most of us won’t see more money in our paychecks, and the millions of families on unemployment will still be in crisis come September.”

The next steps rest with Congress and the courts — and the coronavirus.

One threshold question over the weekend began with the Constitution. Article 1 says: “No money shall be drawn from the Treasury but in Consequence of Appropriations made by Law.”

The Hill: Mnuchin: Democrats will “have a lot of explaining to do” if they want to challenge Trump orders in court.

Jim Tankersley, The New York Times analysis: Trump’s memo seeking to repurpose other federal money to essentially create a temporary $400-a-week bonus unemployment payment in place of the $600 per week that expired is expected to be challenged in court and is unlikely to deliver additional cash to laid-off workers anytime soon.

The Washington Post: Trump’s four most recent executive actions explained. The president’s reliance on his presidential pen is a familiar pattern after running up against roadblocks with Congress (The Washington Post).

The president’s orders sparked confusion among unemployed Americans, state officials and businesses — and even Trump advisers, who were not all in lockstep on Sunday, report The Washington Post, The New York Times and The Associated Press.

The Hill: States and companies are increasingly launching their own efforts to bail out workers.

The Daily Beast: GOP lawmakers prefer that Trump stay out of relief bill talks because he has a record of complicating and prolonging the process.


The Associated Press: For the pandemic jobless, the only real certainty is uncertainty.


The Hill’s roundup of Sunday talk shows: Trump’s coronavirus executive orders reverberate.

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