Trump considering executive order to reinstate enhanced unemployment benefits

President TrumpDonald John TrumpObama calls on Senate not to fill Ginsburg's vacancy until after election Planned Parenthood: 'The fate of our rights' depends on Ginsburg replacement Progressive group to spend M in ad campaign on Supreme Court vacancy MORE said Tuesday his administration was looking at using an executive order to reinstate enhanced unemployment insurance benefits that have expired under the March CARES Act if stimulus negotiations with Congress continue at a slow pace.

“We are looking at it. We’re also looking at various other things I am allowed to do under the system,” Trump told reporters at a White House news conference Tuesday evening.

Trump repeated that he was also considering executive orders to extend a federal moratorium on evictions that expired more than a week ago and to suspend the payroll tax, which he argued he has the authority to do as president.

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Politico reported earlier today that the White House was weighing an executive order to extend the enhanced federal unemployment benefits using money appropriated by Congress that hasn’t been spent yet, in addition to actions on evictions and the payroll tax.

Negotiations between the Trump administration and Democratic leaders got off to a rocky start last week, with both sides describing themselves as far apart on a deal. On Tuesday, administration officials and Democrats said they were aiming to get a deal by the end of the week, indicating at least some progress was being made.

The expanded unemployment insurance implemented in the CARES Act officially expired at midnight Friday.

The White House has pushed for a short-term deal to extend the benefit, but Democrats have rejected the idea, pushing for a more fulsome deal on upcoming relief legislation.

The boosted federal unemployment insurance offered laid-off Americans an extra $600 per week. Trump on Tuesday did not specify what rate he preferred should he reinstate the benefit. 

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Trump also criticized Democrats for pursuing aid for state and local governments in the next relief package but at one point also suggested progress was being made. 

“As far as the various things that I may or may not sign, I may not have to sign. Progress is being made, as you know, very well on the Hill. We’ll see what happens,” Trump told reporters.

Trump’s consideration of an order to suspend the payroll tax comes after conservative economist Stephen MooreStephen MooreSunday shows - Trump team defends coronavirus response Economist Moore calls on Pelosi, Schumer to 'get a deal done' amid stimulus stalemate Trump payroll-tax deferral for federal workers sparks backlash MORE and policy analyst Phil Kerpen argued in a Wall Street Journal op-ed that Trump could declare a national emergency to defer payroll tax payments. They said the president could use the same section of the tax code employed by the Treasury Department earlier this year to postpone the 2019 tax filing deadline. 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. 

Daniel Hemel, a University of Chicago law professor and expert on tax law, told The Hill in an email that the Treasury secretary has the power to delay deadlines for the payment of payroll taxes but cannot require employers to pass on savings to employees. Hemmel also said that employers would likely balk at such a move unless it is certain that Congress would enact legislation to forgive the payments. 

Trump originally pushed for a payroll tax cut to be included in the next coronavirus relief bill, but Democrats and Republicans haven't expressed enthusiasm about the idea.