The White House is reportedly weighing executive actions to bolster unemployment benefits and bail out the airline industry

  • The White House is weighing additional executive actions to reinforce unemployment benefits and bail out the struggling airline industry, The Washington Post reported on Wednesday.
  • Trump recently floated redirecting $US300 billion in unspent CARES Act funds meant for distressed businesses to fund further pandemic relief measures.
  • Odds of another economic relief package appear slim as Republicans and Democrats are digging in on their priorities.
  • Democrats are seeking significant additional spending, while Republicans are trying to keep it at a much lower level.
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The White House is considering additional executive action to circumvent Congress on pandemic aid measures, The Washington Post reported on Wednesday. It comes as odds of a fourth bipartisan agreement on a stimulus deal appear slim.

The Trump administration is considering bulking up unemployment benefits and a bailout of the struggling airline industry, among other steps, the newspaper reported, citing two anonymous sources familiar with internal deliberations.

Other measures could also include reworking the payroll-tax holiday that President Donald Trump has long championed to ensure broader participation and additional funds for school vouchers.

“They’re trying to figure out what they can do legally, what authorities they have, and there are differences of opinion on that,” Stephen Moore, an outside economic adviser to the White House, told The Post. “Trump would like to do another flurry of executive orders that would jump-start the economy.”

At a press conference on Friday, the president floated redirecting nearly $US300 billion in unspent funds from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act in March to provide further economic relief. He was referring to the Economic Stabilisation Fund, which contains federal money meant to be loaned to companies in dire financial straits.

Still, Trump said he’d rather seek congressional authorization to use the money.

“I think there is a theory that I could do it without having to go back, but I think it would be appropriate to go back, and I would ask Congress to approve it,” he said.

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Trump signed four executive orders last month after stimulus negotiations with top congressional Democrats fell apart. They included measures to enact a payroll-tax holiday and reinstate federal unemployment benefits, along with an eviction moratorium. The results were mixed.

Republicans unveiled a $US500 billion stimulus plan on Tuesday that would distribute another round of aid to small businesses, as well as hospitals and public-health agencies. It would also provide a $US300 federal supplement to state unemployment benefits, but the legislation left out direct payments and state aid.

The measure is expected to come up for a procedural vote on Thursday, and Democrats are likely to block it. They are pushing for at least $US2.2 trillion in additional spending to keep the economy afloat.

Both sides are still far apart on a deal. Reporters asked Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin on Wednesday about the prospect of the White House striking a stimulus agreement with Democrats. He was uncertain.

“I don’t know, we’ll see,” he said. “I hope there is. It’s important to a lot of people out there.”