- The Washington Times - Saturday, August 8, 2020

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer slammed President Trump’s executive orders on coronavirus relief as “meager” solutions that don’t appreciate the gravity of the crisis.

“Today’s meager announcements by the President show President Trump still does not comprehend the seriousness or the urgency of the health and economic crises facing working families,” they wrote in a joint statement Saturday.

“We’re disappointed that instead of putting in the work to solve Americans’ problems, the President instead chose to stay on his luxury golf course to announce unworkable, weak and narrow policy announcements to slash the unemployment benefits that millions desperately need and endanger seniors’ Social Security and Medicare,” they added.

Saturday afternoon, the president signed multiple executive orders that extended $400 weekly unemployment benefits until December and issued a payroll tax break for workers making under $100,000. The orders also extend deferrals for student loan payments and forgive interest, as well as renew a moratorium on housing evictions.

Mrs. Pelosi, California Democrat, and Mr. Schumer, New York Democrat, said the orders are flimsy — arguing they don’t actually extend eviction protections or give any rental aid — and creates a larger financial burden for cash-strapped state and local governments.

The drastic use of the executive powers — which are likely to prompt legal challenges — comes after two weeks of Congressional negotiations ground to a halt Friday.

Mrs. Pelosi and Mr. Schumer demanded talks resume so a more comprehensive relief package can get hammered out.

“Democrats repeat our call to Republicans to return to the table, meet us halfway and work together to deliver immediate relief to the American people. Lives are being lost, and time is of the essence,” they said.

Mr. Trump, in turn, accused Democrats of “stonewalling” negotiations.

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, direct payments to the public as top priorities, the sticking points are, as always, in the details — who qualifies and how much to spend.

Additionally, Republicans have a heavy emphasis on liability protection, which Democrats feel are unnecessary.

Meanwhile, the Democrats are pushing for funds for mail-in-ballots and elections, the financially struggling post office, food security programs, and a surge of funding for state and local governments.

Treasury Secretary Steven T. 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.

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