Over the weekend President Trump signed an executive order aiming to help affected by the COVID-19 pandemic Americans. It promises a payroll tax holiday, an extension of unemployment benefits, student loan payment deferral, and eviction protections. This move comes after weeks of unsuccessful talks over the relief package in Congress. “We’re going to save American jobs and provide relief to the American workers,” Trump said.
According to the executive order, unemployed workers will receive an extra $400 a week in addition to normal unemployment insurance payments. Up to $44 billion will be redirected from The Disaster Relief Fund to pay enhanced benefits. However, a state “must enter into a financial agreement with the federal government” and cover 25% (or $100) of the aid for each eligible person, according to CNN.
President Trump also signed a measure to defer the payroll tax from August 1st until the end of the year. According to Fox23 News, payroll tax holiday will affect working Americans who make less than $100 000 a year. Trump hinted that he might extend the deferral or “terminate” the tax if re-elected. “This will mean bigger paychecks for families,” Trump said.
The student loan relief, which currently expires on September 30th, will be extended until the end of the year. This means federally held loans payments are halted and interest on them will not be accrued. However, the eviction moratorium that lapsed in July is not extended, according to CNBC. The order doesn’t provide any financial relief to those struggling to pay their rent. “The Secretary of Health and Human Services and the Director of the CDC shall consider whether any measures temporarily halting residential evictions of any tenants for failure to pay rent are reasonably necessary to “prevent the further spread of COVID-19,” the executive order reads.
Republicans had mixed reactions to president actions. Senator Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) publicly expressed his support. “Since Democrats have sabotaged backroom talks with absurd demands that would not help working people, I support President Trump exploring his options to get unemployment benefits and other relief to the people who need them the most,” wrote McConnell in a statement. Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) criticized the order, calling it “not conservative.” In an interview with Newsmax TV, he said “Presidents don’t get to legislate, presidents don’t have the power of the purse.”
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) issued a joint statement condemning Trump’s executive order. “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,” they said in a statement.