Speed Reads

coronavirus relief

There's bipartisan concern about effectiveness, legality of Trump's pandemic-related executive orders

If they accomplish what he says they will, President Trump's executive orders that promise to renew enhanced unemployment benefits, extend an eviction moratorium, and offer student loan relief would benefit millions of Americans who have felt the economic effects of the coronavirus pandemic, especially while Congress remains unable to produce a new relief deal. Like many executive actions, though, the move raises questions of constitutionality and it's unclear whether the orders would even be effective if they do pass the legal test.

It's safe to expect the efforts will get tied up in court, delaying any tangible relief to Americans, The New York Times reports. Democrats were quick to condemn Trump's order, arguing, among other things, that the eviction moratorium is "hollow" and doesn't provide rental assistance. There was particular concern about the fourth element of the orders, a payroll tax deferral, since the tax funds Social Security and Medicare.

Republicans appeared a little more forgiving about the details, but indicated they weren't pleased with the unilateral nature of the move. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said he still prefers a "congressional agreement," while Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) said Trump "is doing all he can to help students, renters, and workers, but Congress is the one who should be acting." Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) was harsher, calling it "unconstitutional slop."

Either way, as White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows himself admitted, the orders have several limitations. They do not include things like new direct payments to individuals and provide no aid to small businesses or state and local governments, all of which may be necessary for the economy to stay afloat. Read more at The New York Times.