President Trump on Saturday bypassed the nation's lawmakers as he claimed the authority to defer payroll taxes and replace an expired unemployment benefit with a lower amount after negotiations with Congress on a new coronavirus rescue package collapsed, per the AP. Trump's orders encroached on Congress' control of federal spending and seemed likely to be met with legal challenges. 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. “We've had it,” he said at a news conference at his country club in Bedminister, New Jersey. 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, down from $600.
How many people would receive the benefit and how long it might take to arrive were open questions. In addition to the extension of some unemployment benefits, Trump's orders call for a deferral of payroll tax and federal student loan payments, and efforts to halt evictions. The evictions executive order directs the Treasury and Housing and Urban Development departments to identify funds to provide financial assistance to those struggling to pay their monthly rent. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer dismissed Trump's actions as “meager” in the face of economic and health crises facing Americans. Democrats initially sought a $3.4 trillion package, but said they lowered their ask in talks to $2 trillion. Republicans had proposed a $1 trillion plan. (More executive order stories.)