The White House made it known that it is considering three executive orders on COVID-19 unemployment efforts just as its two lead negotiators on the issue met with Democrats for the seventh time Tuesday afternoon.
White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin primed the pump while talking to reporters on their way in to meet with House Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY). Mnuchin said then that they would “absolutely” consider deploying executive orders, though Meadows said he hoped it wouldn’t come to that.
Minutes later, Politico reported that the orders in question focus on delaying collection of the federal payroll tax, restarting the eviction moratorium and expanding the unemployment benefit with unspent money earmarked by Congress in the CARES Act.
Per Politico, the orders were Meadows’ idea.
Trump publicly mused over the possibility of unilaterally addressing the evictions and payroll taxes on Monday.
“A lot of people are going to be evicted, but I’m going to stop it because I’ll do it myself if I have to,” he told reporters. “I have a lot of powers with respect to executive orders, and we’re looking at that very seriously right now.”
It’s not clear if the gambit is an attempt to shake up the negotiation dynamics or a serious plan. If Trump goes through with issuing the orders, they will likely be met with legal challenges.
Mnuchin and Meadows have been given the difficult task of negotiating on behalf of a fractured Republican caucus. While Democrats have coalesced behind the central tenet of the relief, extending the $600 per week unemployment insurance benefit, Republicans as a whole haven’t been able to agree on spending any money at all, never mind how much.
On Tuesday, Schumer pilloried Republicans for being too ensnared in their “ideological straight jacket” to compromise.
“This is a huge crisis and it demands a huge response,” he said.