In an unusual move, President Trump has issued three executive memorandums and one executive order designed to extend federal Covid-19 relief.
The move came as Congressional leaders were unable to agree on new stimulus legislation that would have included one more $1,200 check for most individual taxpayers.
The unilateral executive actions call for financing additional jobless benefits by $300 a week through the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Disaster Relief Fund. The benefits would increase to $400 a week if matched by a state.
A second action calls for a payroll tax holiday for Americans earning less than $104,000 a year, to take effect on September 1 and expire on the final day of this year.
The two other presidential actions call for temporary student loan repayment relief and assistance to renters and homeowners.
The White House was careful to point out that the President’s payroll tax order is not an attempt to do away with that tax, as only Congress has the authority to cancel a tax, but only a means to defer it for the rest of the year.
The president’s deferral tax memorandum orders Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin to “use his authority to defer certain payroll tax obligations with respect to the American workers most in need.”
“This modest, targeted action, will put money directly in the pockets of American workers,” the order continues, “and generate additional incentives for work and employment right when the money is needed most.”
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has said that the chances of passing relief legislation remains possible, noting that House Democrats have reduced the size of an earlier proposed $3 trillion package to $2 trillion.
“Right now, we need to come to agreement,” said the Speaker, noting that she was open to continuing talks on the matter.
By Garry Boulard
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