Several GOP lawmakers express concern over Trump executive orders

Several GOP senators voiced discomfort regarding President TrumpDonald John TrumpOmar fires back at Trump over rally remarks: 'This is my country' Pelosi: Trump hurrying to fill SCOTUS seat so he can repeal ObamaCare Trump mocks Biden appearance, mask use ahead of first debate 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 SasseBenjamin (Ben) Eric SasseGovernment watchdog recommends creation of White House cyber director position Chamber of Commerce endorses McSally for reelection Ben Sasse is mistaken with idea for the election of senators in America 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 GrahamSenate GOP aims to confirm Trump court pick by Oct. 29: report The Hill's Campaign Report: GOP set to ask SCOTUS to limit mail-in voting Senate GOP sees early Supreme Court vote as political booster shot MORE (R-S.C.) said that while he appreciated the president’s orders, he “would much prefer a congressional agreement.”  

Sen. Lamar AlexanderAndrew (Lamar) Lamar AlexanderGraham: GOP has votes to confirm Trump's Supreme Court nominee before the election The Hill's Morning Report - Sponsored by Facebook - Washington on edge amid SCOTUS vacancy This week: Supreme Court fight over Ginsburg's seat upends Congress's agenda 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 AmashCentrist Democrats 'strongly considering' discharge petition on GOP PPP bill On The Trail: How Nancy Pelosi could improbably become president History is on Edward Snowden's side: Now it's time to give him a full pardon 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.