President Donald Trump is threatening executive action if a deal on the stimulus relief package is not reached in the coming days. Taking the pulpit at a White House news conferred Wednesday as negotiations between his administration and Democrats regarding the HEALS Act continue on Capitol Hill, the president floated the idea of extending unemployment benefits and eviction protection by executive order. He also said he is considering "term-limited suspension of the payroll tax."
"My administration is exploring executive actions to provide protection against eviction. Eviction is a big problem — very unfair to a lot of people. It wasn't their fault that this virus came from a faraway land," the president told reporters. "As well as additional relief to those who are unemployed as a result of the virus, very importantly I'm also looking at a term-limited suspension of the payroll tax. Something that has great support from many, many sides especially some of our top economists and some people that we have great respect for."
This is not the first time the president has threatened to take executive action amid ongoing negotiations, which, up until yesterday, have mostly been deadlocked. Speaking Monday after Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said they were "a little bit closer to a deal, the president said that he has "a lot of powers with respect to executive orders and we’re looking at that very seriously right now."
He said that "a lot of people are going to be evicted but I'm going to stop it because I'll do it myself if I have to." Later that evening, the president floated the idea of taking executive action with respect to a payroll tax cut, something he has long been a proponent off, despite that it was not included in the HEALS Act. The president said that he "can do that also through an executive order so we'll be talking about that."
White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, however, recently said that the president would not take unilateral action if negotiations were headed in the right direction and nearing a close. Speaking with reporters following a meeting with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, according to Politico, Meadows said, "right now, we're continuing to consider all of the options that we have before us, but as long as we're making substantial progress in our negotiations, we're hopeful that will provide the fruit necessary to bring it to a close."
At this time, it remains unclear if the president will actually take executive action, something that would likely be met with controversy. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell vowed Wednesday to delay the chamber's scheduled to recess on Friday if a deal is not yet reached.