Trump Signs Executive Orders For $400 A Week Unemployment Benefits, Extends Payroll Tax Cuts Through 2020

President Donald Trump signed several executive orders Saturday which extend payroll cuts and a moratorium on evictions as well as diverting funds to provide $400 in weekly enhanced unemployment benefits.

The president railed against Democrats over "voter fraud" and their attempt to "steal this election" as he laid out why no stimulus relief package has made it through Congress since the March CARES Act. Trump's executive orders extend eviction moratoriums and extend payroll tax cuts for employers through the end of the year, although Trump said "if I get elected in November," he may extend payroll tax cuts "permanently." The president's executive actions also expand military veteran benefits and divert Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and CARES Act money in order to fund federal unemployment insurance (UI) payments to jobless Americans.

The move for "additional China virus relief" from the White House comes after months of stalling and failed negotiations between Republicans and Democrats in Congress. "I've had it," the president declared Saturday afternoon from Bedminster, New Jersey about the break down in talks between the two parties.

Recent congressional talks have halted over the extension of $600 in federally enhanced unemployment benefits, which Trump's executive actions will continue at the reduced benefit of $400. Trump administration officials and GOP leaders have repeatedly stated they believe the extra $600 is encouraging people not to return to work.

The federal unemployment benefits were first authorized in the March CARES Act and expired on July 31, leaving about 30 million jobless Americans to rely on much smaller state payouts.

Speaking ahead of signing the orders, Trump repeatedly said that a "crash" will happen in the stock market and economy if the "radical left Democrats" take control of Congress and his office in November. Trump accused Democrats of seeking "bailout money for states run by Democrat governors and mayors." He blasted "Sleepy Joe Biden" and Democrats for trying to insert "radical left" issues into a pandemic relief bill. Trump accused Biden of wanting to "rip the wall down" along the Mexican border and questioned whether Democrats "love our country."

During a Friday press conference, Trump signaled he was ready to make fiscal maneuvers without Congress, whose next government funding deadline is not until September 30. "If Democrats continue to hold this critical relief hostage, I will act under my authority as president to get Americans the relief they need," Trump said Friday, prompting Democratic leaders to argue that the White House refused to meet even halfway during weeks of Capitol Hill negotiations.

Trump and White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow suggested last week they were considering unilateral efforts to "re-purpose" hundreds of billions of dollars not spent from the CARES Act. But labor and workers' rights experts said legal challenges should be expected because states can only pay benefits authorized under federal law.

Democrats have repeatedly warned that the White House cannot spend money without approval from Congress.

Last week, Republicans and Trump administration officials, including White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, told unemployed Americans to blame Democrats for refusing to agree to a one-week extension of those benefits. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and others scoffed at the suggestion, saying they are only focused on a longer-term plan like the one passed by House Democrats in May. That stimulus bill, which Republicans even said at the time was dead on arrival, sought $3 trillion and extended the $600 federal unemployment benefits through the end of the year.

Congress has been deadlocked for weeks and unable to come to any agreement on how to pass another coronavirus pandemic stimulus package for individuals and businesses. Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell have repeatedly pointed blame at their respective party members for failing to come to a compromise.

The president made the remarks before departing to Long Island for a set of fundraisers in Southampton.

trump sign executive order stimulus
US President Donald Trump holds an executive order on "Continuing the President's National Council for the American Worker and the American Workforce Policy Advisory Board" which he signed during an American Workforce Policy Advisory Board Meeting in the East Room of the White House in Washington, DC on June 26, 2020. MANDEL NGAN / Contributor/Getty Images