- Trump held a last-minute press conference on Friday at his golf club in Bedminster, New Jersey, and claimed to be ready to move forward with executive action on coronavirus relief.
- He said he was prepared to press on with enhanced unemployment benefits, an eviction moratorium, a payroll tax cut, and student loan relief.
- But his executive authority remained unclear with Congress holding the power of the purse.
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President Donald Trump held a last-minute press conference on Friday night and claimed to be ready to use expansive executive power should negotiations with Democrats on another stimulus package end.
“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.
He said he was prepared to move on unemployment insurance, an eviction moratorium, a payroll tax cut, and student loan relief. But the extent of his authority remained unclear as Trump did not provide fuller details.
On Friday, stimulus negotiations between the White House and top congressional Democrats collapsed after two weeks of fruitless talks. Trump blasted House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, saying “they were only interested in Bailout Money for poorly run Democrat cities and states.”
“We are going a different way!” he wrote on Twitter.
His executive power varies with each priority. Trump likely has the authority to enact an eviction moratorium, but Democrats say that it wouldn’t be effective unless money was appropriated to provide relief to renters.
On unemployment insurance, the president didn’t outline details on the order he claimed to be preparing. He refused to say whether it would restore the $US600 federal unemployment benefit that expired in late July.
Democrats have long sought to extend the $US600 federal supplement through January. But Republicans wanted to cut it to a lower level.
As stimulus talks went on without any breakthrough, the president started signalling he could circumvent Congress on a number of priorities. Among them was enacting a payroll tax cut he has championed through the pandemic.
But experts say that measure would not pass on any cash to workers since the president only has authority to suspend their collection and not forgive it, which requires Congress to act.
Skittish employers would likely hold onto the money to avoid a hefty tax bill that they still legally owe the government.