With negotiations regarding the next stimulus package said to be on the brink of collapsing, will President Donald Trump hold true to his threat to intervene with executive powers should a deal not be reached? Although the president had largely remained out of negotiations, as talks continued without making any real evidence of forward progress, he began floating the idea of signing executive orders earlier this week targeting a number of key issues, including unemployment benefits and evictions.
The president had first made such remarks on Monday, telling reporters that he has "a lot of powers with respect to executive orders and we're looking at that very seriously right now." Along with signaling that he was considering taking unilateral action in regards to unemployment and evictions, he floated the idea of taking executive action with respect to a payroll tax cut, stating that he "can do that also through an executive order so we'll be talking about that." The president reiterated this threat on Wednesday when he said that his administration was "exploring executive actions to provide protection against eviction… I'm also looking at a term-limited suspension of the payroll tax."
Much doubt had been cast regarding whether or not the president would actually take such a serious step. White House chief of staff Mark Meadows explained that the president would not take unilateral action if negotiations were headed in the right direction and nearing a close. However, reports early Friday morning that ongoing discussions between Meadows, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer were nowhere near a deal has reportedly prompted Trump to take large steps towards keeping true to his word.
Speaking Friday during an interview with Fox Business, White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow said the president is "looking carefully" at executive action amid the stalemate. He added that Trump is looking for a payroll tax cut, administrative actions for a moratorium, executive authorities on unemployment, re-employment, retention credit – those are essential on his list." Kudlow also explained that he believes the president will sign executive orders, stating, "he will use them. You can bet on it." Kudlow said that "legal drafting is complete" on some of these orders.
It is unclear just how long the president will hold out on signing any executive orders addressing the deadlock in negotiations. According to The Hill, on Thursday he told reporters that he would sign executive orders "probably tomorrow afternoon" or the following morning, meaning either Friday or Saturday. As of this posting, he has not made any further comments regarding the negotiations.