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Trump Threatens Executive Action on COVID Relief

Newser — Arden Dier

With a coronavirus relief deal still elusive, President Trump is considering executive orders—he detailed three of them on Wednesday—unless a deal is reached by Friday. "My administration is exploring executive actions to provide protections against eviction" as well as "looking at a term-limited suspension of the payroll tax," though Republicans and Democrats say this would hurt Social Security and Medicare.

The third potential action has been dubbed "the riskiest gambit of them all" by Politico: using funds remaining from the $2 trillion CARES Act to extend federal unemployment benefits.

The Guardian calls it "a constitutionally dubious plan that would be challenged in court," and the Washington Post reports "some allies have described the threat of executive action as a way to gain leverage over Democrats in the talks.

As for what Democrats are thinking, "the power of the purse begins in the House," Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Wednesday, referring to Congress' constitutional authority over spending. The deal appears stuck on several issues. Democrats want to extend the $600 weekly federal unemployment benefit, grant $1 trillion in funding to assist states and localities suffering heavy layoffs, and set aside $50 billion for childcare. The administration is pushing for $400 weekly until Dec. 15; $150 billion in state and local aid, perhaps to include aid to schools; and $15 billion for childcare, per the Post and Politico. Negotiations are to resume at 5pm Thursday. "There is a light at the end of the tunnel, but how long that tunnel is remains to be seen," Pelosi said.

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