Negotiators for the Democratic House and the Republican White House walked away from the table on Friday night without reaching a deal. No future meetings are scheduled and, with the Senate going on recess starting Monday, prospects for Congress to get something done on a 4th pandemic relief bill are slim.
On Friday night at a press conference at one of his golf properties in New Jersey, Donald Trump vowed to sign several executive orders to do what Congress was unable to do.
The orders will include a payroll tax deferment, extending unemployment benefits, extending an eviction moratorium, deferring student loan payments, and forgiving interest on student loans.
“If Democrats continue to hold this critical relief hostage, I will act under my authority as President to get Americans the relief they need,” Trump said.
The President said the executive orders could get signed “by the end of the week.” A White House official confirmed to CNN that Trump was not expected to sign any executive orders Friday night on Covid relief.
“They’re being drawn [up] by the lawyers right now,” Trump said.
The lawyers are lining up to sue, considering the massive scope of these orders. Indeed, it’s unclear whether the president has the authority to extend unemployment benefits without congressional action to appropriate the money. It’s probably within his power to extend the moratorium eviction and defer student loan payments, but the payroll tax deferment may be another problem area for the president.
Trump is obviously doing what he can, but he may be overreaching.
But the executive orders are expected to meet fierce resistance from Democrats who plan to challenge them in court. Democrats warn that executive action taken will be insufficient to address the extent of the economic and public health crisis faced by Americans during the pandemic.
Democrats set a minimum number of $2 trillion despite every Republican on the Hill telling them that’s a non-starter. So is an astonishing $1 trillion for state and local governments.
On a private call with GOP senators earlier in the day on Friday, [Treasury Secretary Steve] Mnuchin and [White House Chief of Staff Mark] Meadows said they believed that the Democrats’ demands for nearly $1 trillion for state and local government had become the biggest sticking point over a deal, multiple sources told CNN.
They also argued Democrats have not moved off their positions or proposed things that the GOP could accept. For instance, the officials said, Democrats were pushing for permanent student loan forgiveness as part of the deal.
I think it’s clear from all this that Democrats never had any intention of making a deal. They knew, for instance, that $1 trillion for state and local governments was a poison pill that Republicans would never agree to. The question for Democrats was how best to frame Republican rejection so that it makes them look like heartless, uncaring, unfeeling monsters.
Republicans can point to their willingness to extend unemployment benefits and an eviction moratorium that Democrats refused to go along with. But it hardly matters if you have no money and you’re about to be thrown out on the street.
Politicians are busy pointing fingers at each other for the failure.
“My frustration is that we could’ve passed a very skinny deal that dealt with some of the most pressing issues,” Meadows said Thursday evening.
[Sen. Chuck] Schumer was critical of Meadows on Friday, calling him “non-compromising.”
Senators will now go home — many of them to campaign for re-election. All of them will probably get an earful from constituents who are left wondering what’s going on in Washington.