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Unemployment benefits: what is the Trump administration considering?

Reports are that the White House is looking at taking unilateral action on benefits if Congress cannot come to an agreement on the latest economic relief package.

U.S. President Donald Trump speaks during a coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic briefing in the Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House in Washington, U.S., August 3, 2020. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

As negotiations continue in Congress over what the final relief bill will contain, many households and businesses around the United States are still struggling to deal with the financial pressures put upon them by the coronavirus pandemic. With much already agreed, one of the key sticking points is unemployment insurance with a distance separating the proposals from either side.

Unemployment benefit and evictions

A report by The Washington Post on Monday, however, has said that the Trump administration is deciding on whether or not to intervene if Republicans and Democrats cannot deliver a new economic relief bill before Congress heads off for the summer recess on Friday 7 August.

The Post cited two anonymous sources who admitted that the White House were still hopeful that an agreement would come before the end of the week. The actions believed to be under consideration could include enhanced unemployment insurance as well as a moratorium on evictions, something that Trump has spoken about as he potentially attempts to flex his legislative power once again.

Speaking to journalists at the White House, the president said that ”a lot of people are going to be evicted but I'm going to stop it because I'll do it myself if I have to.

Executive orderer | US President Donald J. Trump holds a news conference.
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Executive orderer | US President Donald J. Trump holds a news conference.MICHAEL REYNOLDS / POOLEFE

"I have a lot of powers with respect to executive orders and we're looking at that very seriously right now."

The unilateral step by the administration could also see Trump use an executive order to follow through on lowering payroll taxes, which he has discussed before, although this is something that was pushed back recently by Republicans.


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