While the stimulus check negotiations carry on, President Donald Trump is reportedly considering an executive order to try and get his programs passed more quickly. According to a report by The Washington Post, Trump told White House press corps reporters on Monday that he might sign an executive order to stop evictions and pass payroll tax cuts. It is not clear if he would be allowed to take these actions unilaterally — some of which are not even included in the HEALS Act.
"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," the president said. "I have a lot of powers with respect to executive orders, and we're looking at that very seriously right now." The comment about evictions in particular raised eyebrows, since the HEALS Act does not include any housing programs or extend the moratorium on evictions. Trump also said that he wants to stop people from being put into homeless shelters, saying: "they are thrown out viciously. It's not their fault."
Trump also talked about the possibility of using an executive order to cut payroll taxes — a measure that some Republicans saw as an alternative to a stimulus check. The idea is to create an incentive for business owners to keep their employees on the books despite the pandemic, but experts have said that it would likely do very little for the people who have already been laid off.
Trump's talk of an executive order comes as lawmakers between the United States Senate and the U.S. Congress try to reach a compromise on the HEALS Act by the end of the week. Members of the Trump administration have taken part in the negotiations, including U.S. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin and White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows. So far, Trump does not seem to have been present for the discussions himself.
The HEALS Act was written by the office of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, with input from Trump's cabinet. It includes a stimulus check, but slashes emergency unemployment benefits and does not include an eviction moratorium, food assistance or other key factors from previous stimulus bills.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has said that she and other Democrats will stand their ground on the issue of unemployment enhancements, insisting that the bill extend the $600 per week emergency funding for laid off Americans. As written, the HEALS Act would cut that money to $200 per week until October.
The stimulus bill must be passed this week, as the Senate is scheduled to take a three week recess beginning on Friday. So far, they not hinted that they would shorten this break in order to get their legislation through.