Trump signs executive orders extending coronavirus benefits

President Donald Trump shows signed executive orders for economic relief during a news conference amid the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), at his golf resort in Bedminster, N.J. on Aug. 8, 2020.

President Donald Trump signed executive orders, bypassing Congress, to provide benefits to American families amidst the coronavirus pandemic.

Taking advantage of the power of his podium, U.S. President Donald Trump on Saturday moved to bypass the nation’s elected lawmakers as he claimed the authority to defer payroll taxes and extend an expired unemployment benefit after negotiations with Congress on a new coronavirus rescue package collapsed.

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At his private country golf club in Bedminster, N.J., the president signed four executive orders, contending Washington’s gridlock had compelled him to act as the pandemic undermined the country’s economy and imperilled his November re-election hopes.

What Trump’s executive orders entail

President Trump moved to continue paying a supplemental federal unemployment benefit for millions of unemployed Americans during the pandemic. However, his order called for up to $400 US payments, one-third less than the $600 people had been receiving. Congress allowed those higher payments to lapse on Aug. 1, and negotiations to extend them have been mired in partisan gridlock, with the White House and Democrats miles apart.

“It’s $400 a week, and we’re doing it without the Democrats,” Trump said, asking states to cover 25 percent of the cost. It was not immediately clear where the federal portion would come from — though the president suggested he was looking to use unspent funds from previous coronavirus relief bills — and Trump said it would be up to states to determine how much, if any of it, to fund.

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