Kudlow said he ‘spoke out of turn’ when saying unemployment benefits can only be extended by Congress

CNN anchor Dana Bash and White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow. Screenshot via CNN
  • White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow said he “spoke out of turn” earlier this week when he said unemployment benefits can only be extended by Congress.
  • President Donald Trump signed four executive orders Saturday night to bypass Congress and provide new actions on temporary benefits concerning unemployment, student loans, evictions and foreclosures, and the payroll tax.
  • Kudlow said Sunday morning that the administration expects a debate and the orders might end up in court, but “the president decided to take action on his own” after weeks of fighting between the Democrat-controlled House and Republican Senate.
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White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow said Sunday that he regretted saying unemployment benefits can only be extended by Congress.

Kudlow appeared on CNN’s “State of the Union” Sunday, where host Dana Bash pressed him on the comment he made while appearing on Fox Business Network that he didn’t think extending the benefits could be done “administratively,” but “required an act of Congress.”

“I’m not the lawyer and I probably spoke out of turn there,” Kudlow told Bash on Sunday.

President Donald Trump sparked backlash from both sides of the aisle Saturday when he signed four executive orders to bypass Congress with new actions on student loans, evictions and foreclosures, the payroll tax, and unemployment benefits.

The move came after weeks of gridlock between the Democratic House and the Republican Senate over the next stimulus bill to replenish coronavirus assistance programs.

“I was thinking at that point we might be able to get a deal with congressional Democrats,” Kudlow said. “As you know, we were unable to get that deal. We tried a couple times. We offered compromises. We couldn’t get it. So, the president decided to take action on his own.”

When Bash pointed to lawmakers airing concerns if Trump “way overstepped his power,” Kudlow said “there will be a debate,” but White House counsel Pat Cipollone has “gone through it with a fine-toothed comb.”

Kudlow specifically defended Trump’s temporary unemployment plan, which would require states to pick up $US100 of $US400 weekly benefit checks. He estimated that on average, individuals will get $US800 total in federal and state assistance, which Bash pushed back on.

“You’re talking about some other money that I don’t know about,” Bash said.

Kudlow said the administration “will stand ready to repurpose if states put in a little bit more, is all it amounts to.”

“We need a bit of a reality check here,” Bash said. “You do agree that the only way any of this could possibly happen is if the states actually ask for it and create a whole new system.”

The host also pressed the adviser on whether states have the money to contribute to the order, which House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told “Fox News Sunday” they didn’t.

“States don’t have the money to do that,” Pelosi said about the order. “They have expenses from the coronavirus, they have lost revenue from shelter-in-place and the fact that people are not being able to go out and spend money and inject demand into the economy as they would normally.”

Kudlow said the officials would “find out the exact specifics today and tomorrow” of which states could afford the contribution, particularly based on “$US80 billion to $US100 billion” that was allocated by the CARES Act but never spent.