About Trump’s Executive Order on Pandemic Relief

Donald Trump

By David DeMoss

With the $600 added unemployment benefit lapsing at the end of July, people have been sitting on the edge of their seats waiting to see what new bill, if any, would pass as the newest package for COVID-19 relief. Unsurprisingly, Democrats and Republicans had differing plans for the new relief package, which caused a stalemate in Congress and confusion amongst anticipating citizens.

As weeks have passed since the lapse, Americans have grown more and more anxious about their financial status. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, America faced a 10% unemployment rate at the end of July 2020, meaning roughly 33 million citizens are without work.

With negotiations on Capitol Hill falling through, President Donald Trump made a decision to move forward with relief by issuing an executive order to extend aid to provide an additional $400 in weekly unemployment benefits. The order will:

  •       Replace the expired $600 a week
  •       Suspend some student loan payments
  •       Protect some renters from eviction
  •       and defer payroll taxes.

However, critics say some of the Trump executive actions may take too much time to implement, could be vulnerable to legal challenges, and may not yield the results promised.

But how soon the benefits might start arriving remains unclear. A White House press secretary stated the administration cannot provide a timeline for delivery of the benefits and that much of that will depend on the various states.

The reason: Trump’s order requires states participate in the extended benefit by paying $100 of those $400 in weekly benefits. Some governors are already questioning whether states could afford to pick up the extra cost, due to the pandemic triggering severe budget crises for many states.

The outcome of Trump’s executive action is still unclear. Nevertheless, Kelly Tyko explains everything you need to know about President Trump’s executive actions below.

After negotiations with Democrats collapsed, President Donald Trump acted on his own to extend coronavirus aid through an executive order and a series of memorandums Saturday.

Speaking from his golf resort in Bedminster, New Jersey, Trump said his executive actions would provide an additional $400-per-week in unemployment benefits, suspend payments on some student loans through the end of the year and protect renters from being evicted from their homes. 

One of his executive measures is to defer certain payroll taxes through the end of the year, a move he said if re-elected could become permanent.

The president had been threatening for days to provide relief through an executive order if negotiations failed to produce a deal.

“We’ve had it,” Trump said Saturday. “We’re going to save American jobs and provide relief to the American worker.”

Here’s what Trump signed Saturday and what it can mean for you:

Pandemic unemployment benefits

Trump said his actions would provide an additional $400-per-week in unemployment benefits yet states would have to cover 25% of the cost.

Democrats wanted to extend the full $600 benefit, which ended the week of July 31, but Republicans balked, arguing that was a disincentive for some Americans to return to work because they would receive more in unemployment than they earned on the job.

“It’s $400 a week, and we’re doing it without the Democrats,” Trump said, saying at one point the money would be “rapidly distributed.”

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.

Student loan payments suspended

Congress had suspended payments on some student loans due to the virus but the provision was set to expire Sept. 30. Trump’s new measures will extend the deferments through the end of the year and he said it could be further extended.

Eviction protection for renters

The federal moratorium on evictions expired July 24 and Trump’s new executive order instructs the Department of Housing and Urban Development, the Department of Health and Human Services and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to enable renters and homeowners to stay in their homes.

Tenants of more than 12 million rental units have been at risk since the moratorium expired.

Cut payroll taxes

Trump said the employee portion of the payroll tax would be deferred from Aug. 1 through the end of the year. The move would not directly aid unemployed workers, who do not pay the tax when they are jobless, and employees will need to repay the federal government eventually without an act of Congress, where there is bipartisan opposition on Capitol Hill.

“If I win, I may extend and terminate,” Trump said, repeating a longtime goal but remaining silent on how he’d fund the Medicare and Social Security benefits that the 7% tax on employee income covers. Employers also pay 7.65% of their payrolls into the funds.

What about stimulus checks?

Trump did not issue an executive action for another round of stimulus checks Saturday.

In late July, Senate Republicans released a roughly $1 trillion coronavirus relief bill proposal called the Health Care Economic Assistance Liability Protection and Schools or HEALS Act. It has not approved or agreed upon yet.

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