Senate

Graham says he appreciates Trump orders, but 'would much prefer a congressional agreement'

Senate Judiciary Chairman Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said Saturday that though he appreciates President Trump's round of orders he signed to mitigate the economic fallout from the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, he "would much prefer a congressional agreement." 

At his private club in Bedminster, N.J., Trump signed orders that would extend unemployment benefits, suspend payroll taxes, and offer federal eviction and student loan relief as negotiations for the next stimulus package remain at a stalemate. 

The President's executive orders, which he had teased for days, effectively extend Congress's deadline to negotiate a stimulus package. Pressure on the White House and Senate GOP to reach a deal with congressional Democratic leadership has mounted as the programs established by the CARES Act in March have expired.

After Trump signed the orders, Graham took to Twitter to comment on the action.  

"I appreciate the President taking this decisive action but would much prefer a congressional agreement," Graham wrote. "I believe President Trump would prefer the same."

Graham, a consistent Trump ally, was among several GOP lawmakers who criticized former President Barack Obama for what they considered an excessive amount of executive actions. 

The move by Trump comes after Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and White House chief of staff Mark Meadows on Friday told reporters that they would recommend Trump move forward with executive actions over the weekend after they emerged from an unproductive meeting with Democratic leadership.

Democrats and Republicans remain most divided on the price tag for the next stimulus bill, with the Democratic House-passed bill ringing in at $3.4 trillion, compared to the GOP's $1 trillion proposal. 

Whether or not the president legally has the unilateral authority to intervene on unemployment benefits is a question that still remains. His actions taken on Saturday may face legal challenges.

However, when asked whether or not he was concerned about legal action being taken against the move, Trump said, "I mean, everything you do, you get sued."

"So we'll see. Yeah, probably we get sued, but people feel that we can do it."

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