President Donald Trump is moving to extend unemployment benefits.
On Saturday (August 8), Trump signed a series of executive orders along with three memorandums, including one that will add an extra $400 per week in supplemental unemployment benefits to tens of millions of jobless Americans who are suffering from the economic impact of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
As summarized by USA Today, in addition to providing extra income in unemployment benefits, the four orders would also suspend payments on some student loans through the end of 2020, protect renters from being evicted from their homes, and order employers to suspend certain payroll taxes through the end of the year for Americans who earn less than $100,000 annually.
Trump made the decision himself after weeks of negotiations on an agreement concerning a new coronavirus relief package with congressional Democrats fell through on Friday (August 7). "We’ve had it," he said. "We’re going to save American jobs and provide relief to the American worker.”
The question that remains, however, is whether the president has the legal authority to extend these enhanced unemployment benefits by executive action without Congress.
Still, the proposed $400 in added benefits is lower than the $600 out-of-work Americans had been receiving since the weekly bonus expired in July. What’s more, with states being asked to cover 25% of the costs ($100), it may take months for states to implement due to budget shortfalls, meaning the extra payment may amount to only $300 a week.
Additionally, Trump is proposing to divert funds from previously-approved disaster aid funds, like FEMA’s Disaster Relief Fund, which may create even more issues going forward.
"This is the money they need,” said Trump of the reduced benefits. “This is the money they want. This gives them an incentive to go back to work.”
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