President Trump on Saturday signed orders to extend unemployment benefits, suspend payroll taxes, and offer federal eviction and student loan relief, taking unilateral action that is on shaky legal ground amid stalled negotiations about a fifth round of coronavirus relief in Congress.
The president announced the slew of executive actions from his private club in Bedminster, N.J., where he is spending the weekend after lawmakers on Capitol Hill were unable to reach an agreement with White House negotiators.
The president was not physically present for any of the talks over the last few weeks, but has said he received regular updates from his staff.
One memo extends the enhanced unemployment benefits that expired roughly two weeks ago and have been critical to millions of Americans out of work due to the pandemic. The benefits will be lowered from $600 to $400 per week, with states required to cover 25 percent of the cost, Trump said.
Another of the orders directs the Treasury Department to allow employers to defer payment of employee-side Social Security payroll taxes through the end of 2020 for Americans earning less than about $100,000 annually. The text of the executive order states that the intended deferral period would start Sept. 1, but Trump suggested that it could be retroactive to Aug. 1. Trump also said that he hoped to forgive the deferred payroll taxes and make permanent payroll tax cuts if he is reelected in November.