During a news conference Friday night at his New Jersey golf club, President Donald Trump said he will sign his executive orders on coronavirus relief by the end of the week. Trump has been discussing signing executive orders on extending relief programs and unilaterally instituting a payroll tax cut for the past week while his administration and Congressional Democratic leaders negotiated the next coronavirus stimulus package. The two sides never came to a deal, with Trump at one point accusing Democrats of holding relief "hostage."
Trump said "the lawyers" were looking at the language for his proposed executive orders and acknowledged he would "probably" get sued, reports CBS News. "It would be really nice to do it with the Democrats, but they're only interested in one thing and that's protecting people that have not done a good job at managing cities and states and... Nothing to do with COVID... or little to do," Trump said, referring to the almost $1 trillion Democrats have been seeking to help states and local governments. "They want to be able to make up for many, many years and in some cases decades of bad management."
Trump on when he'll sign the executive orders it promised: "It could be by the end of the week." (Look for them in two weeks, maybe, possibly later.) pic.twitter.com/e2PrK3tV5d— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) August 8, 2020
The president said he was "talking about" deferring the payroll tax for "a period of months until the end of the year and I can extend it at a certain period" and it would be retroactive to July 1. Trump has been talking about a payroll tax cut for months, but it was not included in Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's HEALS Act proposal. The president also said he will sign an executive order to force health insurance companies to cover pre-existing conditions, even though the Affordable Care Act already does so. The Trump administration is part of a lawsuit seeking to dismantle the law, signed in 2010.
The other executive orders will defer student loan payments through the end of the year and expand unemployment benefits. However, it is not clear if Trump can take these actions without Congress, especially when it comes to the unemployment benefits because Congress controls federal spending. The federal $600 weekly unemployment benefit was included in the CARES Act and expired on July 31. Democrats sought to extend it through January in the HEROES Act, while Republicans proposed slashing it to $200 per week in the HEALS Act.
Earlier Friday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer ended their talks with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows without reaching a deal. Republicans want to keep the cost of the next package at $1 trillion, but Democrats want a bigger bill passed. Pelosi said they offered to cut their demands by $1 trillion, but the Trump administration rejected the officer, reports CNBC. However, both sides do agree on another round of $1,200 stimulus checks for Americans and a moratorium on evictions from federally-funded housing.