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Several GOP lawmakers express concern over Trump executive orders

Several GOP senators voiced discomfort regarding President TrumpDonald TrumpProject Veritas surveilled government officials to expose anti-Trump sentiments: report Cheney: Fox News has 'a particular obligation' to refute election fraud claims The Memo: What now for anti-Trump Republicans? MORE's decision Saturday to sign four executive orders meant to address the economic fallout of the coronavirus pandemic and bypass Congress.    

At his private club in Bedminster, N.J., on Saturday afternoon, Trump signed orders that extend unemployment benefits, suspend payroll taxes, and offer federal eviction and student loan relief. 

Some members of the president's party took issue with the move, asserting that Congress should be legislating. 

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Sen. Ben SasseBen SasseOvernight Energy: 5 takeaways from the Colonial Pipeline attack | Colonial aims to 'substantially' restore pipeline operations by end of week | Three questions about Biden's conservation goals Hillicon Valley: Colonial Pipeline attack underscores US energy's vulnerabilities | Biden leading 'whole-of-government' response to hack | Attorneys general urge Facebook to scrap Instagram for kids Utah county GOP censures Romney over Trump impeachment vote MORE (R-Neb.), who has spoken out against the government spending large sums of money in coronavirus legislation, offered one of the party's more cutting rebukes, calling the theory behind the move “unconstitutional slop.”

“The pen-and-phone theory of executive lawmaking is unconstitutional slop,” Sasse said in a statement issued by email and obtained by The Hill. “President Obama did not have the power to unilaterally rewrite immigration law with DACA, and President Trump does not have the power to unilaterally rewrite the payroll tax law.”

During the Obama administration, conservatives often criticized the president’s use of executive actions on issues that were stuck in Congress such as immigration reform. 

Trump's orders came after pressure on the White House and Senate GOP to strike a deal with congressional Democratic leadership mounted this week, with negotiators racing to meet a self-imposed deadline of Friday. However, they were unable to agree on a proposal as the programs established by the CARES Act in March expired.

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamGOP governors move to cut unemployment benefits as debate rages over effects Trump critics push new direction for GOP Graham warns about trying to 'drive' Trump from GOP: 'Half the people will leave' MORE (R-S.C.) said that while he appreciated the president’s orders, he “would much prefer a congressional agreement.”  

Sen. Lamar AlexanderLamar AlexanderThe Republicans' deep dive into nativism Senate GOP faces retirement brain drain The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by the National Shooting Sports Foundation - CDC news on gatherings a step toward normality MORE (R-Tenn.), meanwhile, blamed Democrats for failing to reach an agreement.

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"The president is doing all he can to help workers, students and renters, but Congress is the one who should be acting," Alexander said in a statement. 

Rep. Justin AmashJustin AmashCheney set to be face of anti-Trump GOP Biden: 'Prince Philip gladly dedicated himself to the people of the UK' Battle rages over vaccine passports MORE (L-Mich.), a libertarian who left the Republican Party last year, compared the president’s actions to those of a “king.”

“Our Constitution doesn’t authorize the president to act as king whenever Congress doesn’t legislate,” Amash posted on Twitter.

It is still unclear if it is legal for Trump to unilaterally intervene on unemployment and other benefits, with the president intimating on Saturday in New Jersey that he does anticipate lawsuits against the orders.  

This report was updated on Aug. 9 at 9:02 a.m.