Schumer blasts Trump’s executive orders as ‘a big show’ that ‘won’t do the job’ for coronavirus relief
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., on Sunday blasted President Trump’s recent executive orders as “a big show” that won’t “do anything” as lawmakers continue to voice their discontent over the president’s moves following the collapse of negotiations with Congress on a new coronavirus rescue package.
Schumer, who appeared on ABC’s “This Week,” is one of the most prominent congressional voices expressing discontent over Trump’s executive orders on Saturday to defer payroll taxes and replace an expired unemployment benefit with a lower amount.
While the president cast his actions as necessary given that lawmakers have been unable to reach an agreement to plunge more money into the stumbling economy, Schumer and other Democrats argue that the move seems more designed to help Trump’s re-election chances come November and say that the orders will most likely face opposition in the courts.
“The event at the country club is just what Trump does, a big show but it doesn’t do anything,” Schumer said of Trump signing his executive orders at his New Jersey country club. “As the American people look at these executive orders, they’ll see they don’t come close to doing the job in two ways, one in what’s proposed, and second in what’s left out.”
Trump moved to continue paying a supplemental federal unemployment benefit for millions of Americans out of work during the outbreak. However, his order called for up to $400 payments each week, one-third less than the $600 people had been receiving. How many people would receive the benefit and how long it might take to arrive were open questions.
The previous unemployment benefit, which expired on Aug. 1, was fully funded by Washington, but Trump is asking states to now cover 25 percent. He is seeking to set aside $44 billion in previously approved disaster aid to help states, but said it would be up to states to determine how much, if any of it, to fund, so the benefits could be smaller still.
“Most states will take months to implement it, because it’s brand new, it’s sort of put together with spit and paste, and many states, because they have to chip in $100 and they don’t have money won’t do it,” Schumer said. “And to boot it depletes the hurricane trust fund to defer this money, to pay for this, when we’re at the height of hurricane season.”
Many states already faced budget shortfalls due to the coronavirus pandemic and would have difficulty assuming the new obligation.
Trump hopes the four executive orders he signed will signal to Americans that he is acting where Congress will not to address economic fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic, which has upended nearly all aspects of American life. It’s unclear what the economic impact of his actions will be, and his orders do not address several areas that have been part of the congressional negotiations, including funding for schools and state and local governments.
Democrats initially sought a $3.4 trillion package, but said they lowered their asking price in talks to $2 trillion. Republicans had proposed a $1 trillion plan.
Trump’s Democratic opponent in the presidential race, Joe Biden, called the orders “a series of half-baked measures” and accused him of putting at risk Social Security, which is funded by the payroll tax.
It’s not only Democrats, however, who took issue with Trump’s orders.
Republican Sen. Ben Sasse of Nebraska said: “The pen-and-phone theory of executive lawmaking is unconstitutional slop.”
Sasse, a member of the Senate’s Judiciary and Finance panels, added that Trump “does not have the power to unilaterally rewrite the payroll tax law. Under the Constitution, that power belongs to the American people acting through their members of Congress.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.