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Trump Considers Executive Order To Extend Unemployment Benefits, Other COVID-19 Relief

President Donald Trump said he anticipates signing executive orders either Friday or Saturday extending enhanced unemployment benefits and imposing a payroll tax holiday as lawmakers have so far failed to reach agreement for a second stimulus package. The executive action could also include provisions regarding student loan repayment relief and eviction protections. 

Before leaving for Ohio on Thursday, Trump tweeted about potentially moving forward with executive actions.

It remains unclear whether Trump has legal authority to enact these measures.

Where Stimulus Negotiations Stand

Trump’s comments were in response to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) highlighting the progress between both parties. Pelosi said “…we see a light at the end of the tunnel, we just don’t know how long the tunnel is.”

Still, several key officials remain frustrated at the pace of progress. White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows said on Wednesday after meeting with negotiators that both sides are “trillions of dollars apart” and “no top-line numbers have been agreed to”.

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Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) are scheduled to meet Thursday evening on Capitol Hill with Meadows and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin to continue negotiations.

Meanwhile, McConnell announced that he’ll allow senators to leave Washington next week until an agreement is reached—an indicator of how far apart the two parties are, and why Trump is exploring executive power to provide more economic relief.

‘Some Progress’ on Extending Unemployment Benefits

Democrats strongly support extending the $600 weekly federal unemployment benefit, while Republicans are wary it will encourage Americans to stay home from work. 

“They don’t understand the crisis in the country..they don’t understand its depth. They don’t understand its breadth. They don’t understand the suffering,” Schumer said during a press briefing Thursday.

Pelosi said lawmakers are “making some progress,” but Democrats “want to see the whole package” as negotiations crawl toward a resolution.

Republicans remain deeply concerned about the fixed unemployment benefit amid reports that some Americans earned more money with the enhanced unemployment benefits than they did before losing their jobs.

“There’s no question, in certain cases where we’re paying people more to stay home than to work, that’s created issues in the entire economy,” Mnuchin said during an Aug. 2 interview with ABC News. 

As for Americans increasing their financial standing through unemployment benefits, a recent survey from Capital Collection Management found that “almost half (48%) of Americans receiving unemployment assistance are making less money than they were when they were employed.”

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