House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) on Sunday wasted no time in criticizing President Trump’s flurry of executive actions, issued the day before amid a stalemate between his administration and Congress over a trillion dollar-plus coronavirus relief package.
On Saturday afternoon, the President signed a series of executive actions at his golf club from Bedminster, New Jersey, including a plan that could provide some Americans with a weekly $400 unemployment benefit for a limited period of time, the option to defer the federal payroll tax, and deferring student loan payments. The actions fall far short of the President’s own description of what they did at a news conference Saturday, and came after White House negotiators failed to cut a deal with Democrats on coronavirus relief this week.
Both Democrats and some Republicans, such as Sen. Ben Sasse (R-NE), have taken Trump’s move to bypass Congress to task over the weekend. Critics of the President’s executive actions argue that they are executive overreach, citing how the Constitution gives Congress the authority to appropriate spending.
While Pelosi slammed Trump’s executive actions as “illusions” during an interview on Fox News Sunday, Schumer told ABC News that the President’s orders are “a big show, but they don’t do anything.”
Here’s how Pelosi and Schumer took the President’s executive actions to task during Sunday morning interviews:
Questioning the legality of Trump’s executive actions
During an interview on CNN, Pelosi characterized the President’s executive actions as “absurdly unconstitutional.”
“Well, the fact is, is that whether they’re legal or not takes time to figure out,” Pelosi said, before adding that she agrees with Sasse’s assessment that the executive actions are an “unconstitutional slop.”
However, Pelosi declined to address whether Democrats plan to take legal action against the President’s move.
Although Schumer also stopped short of confirming whether there will be a legal challenge against the President’s executive actions, saying that he’ll “leave that up to the attorneys,” the Senate minority leader argued that Trump’s move “doesn’t do the job.”
“It’s not going to go into effect in most places for weeks or months, because it’s so put together in a crazy way,” Schumer said. “If he just would have renewed the $600, as we do in the HEROES bill, through January, things would flow smoothly.”
Criticizing Trump for requiring states to cover 25% of unemployment insurance benefits
The House speaker didn’t hold back as she took issue with Trump requiring states to cover 25% of unemployment insurance benefits, which his administration is capping at $400 per week — a reduction from the previous benefit of $600 a week.
“What the President put forth was a complicated formula which said that the states should put up 25 percent of the money — states don’t have the money to do that,” Pelosi said, during an interview on Fox News Sunday. “They have expenses from the coronavirus. They have lost revenue from shelter in place and the fact that people are not being able to go out and spend money and inject demand into the economy, as they would normally.”
Pelosi shared similar remarks on CNN on Sunday morning, pointing out that states have been hit hard by the coronavirus and are in some cases facing tremendous budget shortfalls.
“They are firing health care workers, first responders, teachers, and the rest — sanitation, transportation workers — because they don’t have the money,” Pelosi said on CNN.
During an interview on ABC on Sunday morning, the Senate minority leader slammed the President for saying that the initial $600 weekly unemployment insurance benefit keeps people from working.
“The evidence shows that’s not the case. That belittles the American people. Americans want to work,” Schumer said. “But with 10%, 11% unemployment, you can’t find a job and people shouldn’t be given a pay cut.”
Schumer added that requiring states to foot 25% of unemployment insurance benefit costs is an “unworkable plan.”
“Most states will take months to implement it because it’s brand new, it’s sort of put together with spit and paste,” Schumer said. “And many states, because they have to chip in $100, and they don’t have money, won’t do it.”
Condemning Trump’s payroll tax deferral
The House Speaker went after Trump’s payroll tax suspension, which actually defers the due date for taxes paid by employees through Dec. 31 rather than reducing them.
“While he says he’s going to do the payroll tax, what he’s doing is undermining Social Security and Medicare, so these are illusions,” Pelosi said on Fox News Sunday.
Schumer told ABC News’ George Stephanopolous that Trump’s payroll tax deferral will leave employees with “a huge bill” upon expiration.
Schumer then argued that the notion of Trump forgiving costs accrued from his payroll tax deferral if he wins a second term would prove detrimental to government programs millions rely on.
“If you’re a Social Security recipient or Medicare recipient, you better watch out if President Trump is re-elected,” Schumer said on ABC News.
Arguing that there is no room for more compromises with GOPers amid stalled COVID-19 negotiations
The House Speaker hit back at Fox News Sunday host Chris Wallace when he asked whether she messed up COVID-19 relief negotiations, given how, in his words, she’s a “master negotiator.”
“Clearly, you don’t have an understanding of what is happening here,” Pelosi said. “Both in the weakness of the President’s executive orders — which don’t give the money, enhanced benefits — but puts a complicated formula there which will take a while, if at all, to accomplish, to put money in the pockets of the American people.”
Pelosi added that although Democrats were willing to meet Republicans “halfway,” they refused to do so.
“Right now we need to come to agreement. We’ve got to meet halfway,” Pelosi said. “We’ve got to make do what we can for the American people. But what they’re putting forth does not meet that standard.”
The Senate minority leader had a similar response when pressed on whether Democrats are willing to compromise on more as they face criticism from Republicans over failed negotiations amid a stalemate over a new coronavirus relief package.
“We’ve compromised a great deal,” Schumer said, when asked by ABC News’ George Stephanopolous about how Republicans have rejected Democrats’ offer of a $2 trillion coronavirus relief package, saying that it’s a “budget gimmick” due to how it shortens the amount of time the money will be spent and does not cut any programs.
Watch Pelosi and Schumer’s remarks below: