Nancy Pelosi: This Is 'Absurdly Unconstitutional'

The fight is on over Trump's executive orders
By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 9, 2020 2:45 PM CDT
Nancy Pelosi: This Is 'Absurdly Unconstitutional'
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of Calif., center, accompanied by Senate Minority Leader Sen. Chuck Schumer of N.Y., left, speak to reporters on Capitol Hill in Washington, Friday, Aug. 7, 2020.   (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

Trump's executive actions are a done deal, right? Well, maybe not. Democrats and White House officials say they're still open to negotiating as questions swirl around the constitutionality of Trump's dramatic move Saturday—signing four actions to provide coronavirus relief amid stalled congressional talks, the Hill reports. First, the Sunday talk show chatter:

  • 'Slop': Nancy Pelosi called Trump's executive actions "unconstitutional slop" on Fox News Sunday and "absurdly unconstitutional" on CNN's State of the Union. Her game plan: "We have to reach an agreement. We've got to meet halfway. We've got to do the best we can for the American people."

  • 'Big show': "The event at the country club is just what Trump does—a big show, but it doesn't do anything," said Sen. Schumer on ABC's This Week. "If the American people look at these executive orders, they'll see that they don't come close to doing the job."
  • State coffers: Pelosi and Schumer hinged their argument on Trump's reduction of weekly federal unemployment benefits from $600 to $400 and his plan to have the states pay the missing 25%, per USA Today. The Democratic lawmakers say state coffers are already about empty. Other Democrats attacked Trump's payroll tax deferment, saying it might drain money out of Social Security and Medicare.
  • The Constitution: It says that Congress (not the president) is empowered to "lay and collect taxes" and "pay the Debts and provide for the common Defense and General Welfare of the United States," per Article I, Section 8, Clause 1.
  • 'Not bluffing': Experts say Trump's constitutional end-around would be highly unusual—the first of its kind since at least the late 1960s, per the Sacramento Bee. But "he is not bluffing," says National Economic Council Director Larry Kudlow.

  • 'Always get sued': Is Trump concerned about the legality of executive actions? "No, not at all," he said Friday, per MSN. "Well, you always get sued. Everything you do, you get sued."
  • Mnuchin: Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said he's open to negotiation, but added on Fox News Sunday: "If the Democrats want to challenge us in court and hold up unemployment benefits to those hardworking Americans that are out of a job because of COVID, they're going to have a lot of explaining to do."
  • All fluff? Yuval Levin and Adam J. White argue at the National Review that Trump's orders don't really do that much. His memorandum to aid the unemployed, for example, just enables states "to apply for FEMA grants ... and then use that money to provide additional unemployment benefits."
  • The details: Dig into Trump's orders at the Washington Post, which calls them "unusual" and "highly controversial."
(More executive order stories.)

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