House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Sunday that President Trump’s COVID-relief executive orders are based on questionable legal grounds and fall far short of the aid American people need.
“It was unconstitutional slop,” Mrs. Pelosi, California Democrat, said on “Fox News Sunday.” “These are illusions.”
“The kindest thing I can say is he doesn’t know what he’s talking about or, something is wrong there. Something is very, very wrong there,” she added.
Likewise, Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer, New York Democrat, said on ABC News that it was a “a big show but it doesn’t do anything.”
On Saturday afternoon, the president signed multiple executive orders that extended $400 weekly unemployment benefits and issued a payroll tax break for workers making under $100,000. The orders also extend deferrals for student loan payments and forgive interest, and renew a moratorium on housing evictions.
Mrs. Pelosi, in particular, criticized the moratorium order, arguing it doesn’t actually extend eviction protections or give any rental aid.
She also argued that the unemployment benefits only put a larger burden on state governments’ already precarious budgets, while the payroll tax is undercutting Medicare and Social Security.
On CNN’s “State of the Union,” White House economic advisor Larry Kudlow said the president doesn’t know how many states will be able to pay in 25% — or $100 — of the $400 jobless benefits.
“We will probably find that out today and tomorrow,” Mr. Kudlow said.
Though the speaker questioned the legality of the executive orders, neither Mrs. Pelosi nor Mr. Schumer said that Democrats would seek to challenge them in court, which would block any aid from the public.
Instead, they stressed that negotiations on Capitol Hill need to resume.
Talks between Mrs. Pelosi, Mr. Schumer, White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows and Treasury Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin stalled Friday after making virtually no progress over the course of two weeks.
Democrats put forward a $3.5 trillion bill, while Republicans’ proposal totaled around $1.5 trillion.
While there’s an overlap in having schools, extended unemployment benefits and direct payments to the public as top priorities, the sticking points are in the details — who qualifies and how much to spend.
Additionally, Republicans have a heavy emphasis on liability protection, which Democrats feel is unnecessary.
Meanwhile, the Democrats are pushing for funds for mail-in-ballots and elections, the financially struggling post office, food security programs, and state and local governments.
Mr. Mnuchin said Friday that there needed to be a significant compromise on unemployment benefits and state and local government funding in order to reach a larger deal.
Mrs. Pelosi, however, stressed that they were too far apart on issues like food security, arguing that billions of dollars are needed for that program but Republicans only put forth a few thousand dollars.
Mr. Schumer defended Democrats’ efforts in the negotiations after Mr. Trump accused them of stonewalling.
“We’ve compromised a great deal,” he said.