Trump says he’s considering executive action to suspend evictions, payroll tax

President Trump said Monday that he is considering taking executive action to halt evictions and suspend payroll tax collection as coronavirus relief talks see slow progress on Capitol Hill.

“I could do that if I want, and I want to do that. I don’t want people to be evicted,” Trump told reporters at a press conference Monday evening when asked about his suggestion earlier in the day that he could act unilaterally to suspend evictions.

Trump noted that individuals who are evicted often go to shelters, where the coronavirus can spread easily because of crowding.

“They’re thrown out viciously. It’s not their fault. It’s not their fault. It’s China’s fault,” Trump said, continuing to blame China, where the virus originated, for the pain inflicted on Americans.

Trump also asserted that he had unilateral authority to suspend the payroll tax.

“I can do that also through executive order, so we’ll be talking about that,” Trump said.

Trump’s admission came after conservatives Stephen Moore and Phil Kerpen penned an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal urging Trump to declare a national economic emergency and to direct the IRS to suspend collection of payroll taxes.

They argued that Trump could defer payroll tax payments using the same section of the tax code used by Treasury earlier this year to postpone the 2019 tax filing deadline until mid-July. The move would amount to a deferral, though the two argued that Trump could pledge to sign a bill in the future to forgive the repayments.

Moore, an informal economic adviser to Trump, has been forcefully advocating for a payroll tax cut in the next coronavirus relief package. Trump has been pushing for a payroll tax cut, though it has been coolly received on Capitol Hill and was not included in the Senate GOP legislative package unveiled last week.

Trump’s remarks make clear the White House is considering unilateral actions as the administration and Congress struggle to reach a consensus on the next coronavirus relief bill.

Congress in March enacted a federal moratorium on evictions through the CARES Act, though that expired roughly a week ago.

Expanded unemployment insurance benefits enacted under the same bill officially expired last week. The White House has pushed for both measures to be extended quickly in a short-term deal as negotiators hammer out the details of the relief package, but Democrats have resisted a short-term measure.

Democrats spoke of slow progress with administration negotiators on Monday after meeting for nearly two hours in Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s (D-Calif.) office. The two sides are not expected to reach a deal by week’s end. 

Tags CARES Act Coronavirus COVID-19 Donald Trump Eviction moratorium Nancy Pelosi Payroll tax cut Stephen Moore Unemployment

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