Trump eyes weekend executive order on coronavirus relief


President Trump said Thursday that he would likely move forward with executive orders on coronavirus relief later this week if the White House and Congress do not make progress in their negotiations.

Trump told reporters that he would sign executive order "probably tomorrow afternoon" or the following morning. He made the remarks at Joint Base Andrews before departing for a trip to Ohio for official and campaign business.

Trump acknowledged that a legislative deal was still possible, but the two sides remain far apart on both the top-line dollar amount and specific provisions of the legislation.

“They’re being drawn now,” Trump said of the orders he has sought on unemployment benefits, evictions and other issues. “We’ll see what happens. It’s possible we’ll make a deal, but it’s also possible we won’t.”

White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) are again set to meet on Capitol Hill Thursday evening to continue negotiations.

Both sides say that they want to reach an agreement on key issues by Friday, but Meadows emerged from talks on Wednesday saying negotiators were "trillions of dollars apart in terms of what Democrats and Republicans hopefully will ultimately compromise on."

Meadows and Mnuchin have signaled the president would take unilateral action if a compromise is not reached.

Trump insisted this week that he has the authority to issue executive orders to reinstate the expanded unemployment insurance benefits, reinstate a federal moratorium on evictions and suspend the payroll tax.

“Upon departing the Oval Office for Ohio, I’ve notified my staff to continue working on an Executive Order with respect to Payroll Tax Cut, Eviction Protections, Unemployment Extensions, and Student Loan Repayment Options,” Trump tweeted earlier Thursday before leaving for Ohio.

It is unclear whether Trump has the legal authority to take the actions he has previewed.

The $600 federal increase to unemployment insurance benefits for laid-off workers enacted in previous coronavirus relief legislation officially expired midnight Friday. The same bill also placed a moratorium on evictions for renters participating in federal housing assistance programs and those who live in places with federally backed mortgages, which expired about two weeks ago.

Trump has pushed for a payroll tax cut to be included in the next relief measure, though the idea has been rebuffed by both Democrats and Republicans on Capitol Hill. 

Trump will deliver remarks on the economy, sign an executive order intended to boost domestic drug manufacturing and attend a fundraiser during the daylong trip to Ohio. He will then head to his golf club in Bedminster, N.J., and is expected to attend a fundraiser in the Hamptons over the weekend.

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