The $600 enhanced unemployment benefit and the eviction moratorium for renters have both expired, putting many Americans in a very difficult position. An estimated 23 million people could face eviction by October, and more than 30 million people receiving unemployment benefits have seen a drastic cut in the amount of money they are receiving. As Congress continues to work on negotiating a new stimulus deal, many are left to wonder when and even if a new stimulus bill will be passed.
There has been little progress in moving forward with the HEROES Act, which was passed by the House of Representatives months ago, only to be called “dead on arrival” in the Senate. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is still working to persuade Congress to move forward with the $3.4 trillion plan, which would offer stimulus checks up to $6,000 per household, an extension of the extra $600 in enhanced unemployment benefits through January 2021, student loan forgiveness up to $10,000, hazard pay and more. Meanwhile, the HEALS Act, unveiled by the Senate last week, proposed $1,200 stimulus checks, a modified enhanced unemployment benefit, another round of Paycheck Protection Program loans and other benefits.
According to CNN, negotiations around the next stimulus package are finally starting to move in the right direction, leading to hopes that a stimulus deal will be agreed on by this Friday—which is the Senate’s last day in session before August recess. The next session for both chambers will begin on September 8. If an agreement is made by this Friday, a stimulus bill is expected to be passed by next week. This seems promising. After all, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said that senators will “certainly be in next week,” even though they’re scheduled to break for August recess then—suggesting that a stimulus bill could be signed then.
That said, the deadline is just days away, causing a panic among many Americans struggling to make ends meet in such a difficult time. Some senators believe that the Friday deadline is a make or break date for the next stimulus: “If there’s not a deal by Friday, there won’t be a deal,” said Missouri Sen. Roy Blunt, as reported by CNN.
White House chief of staff Mark Meadows has made it clear that the president and Republicans are making concessions and are trying hard to “get a deal across the finish line for those who are hurting.” Yet there are some issues that both sides of the aisle are just not seeing eye to eye on, and this holds especially true for the enhanced unemployment benefit. Democratic leaders aren’t willing to budge on the extra $600 per week boost in unemployment benefits, but Senate Republicans would like to reduce this amount to avoid “disincentivizing” Americans to get back to work.
All of this begs the question: What will happen if efforts fall short and Republicans and Democrats simply can’t reach a deal by this Friday?
In short, if an agreement can’t be made by this Friday, President Trump plans to take executive action.
“By Friday, if we haven’t made significant progress and we’re too far apart, the president is prepared to take executive action,” Meadows said during an interview on CNN’s “The Situation Room.”
“The president has been very clear on that issue,” he added. Specifically, President Trump plans to take executive action on banning evictions and extending enhanced unemployment payments. The president also said he is considering reducing payroll taxes by executive order.
“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,” Trump told reporters at an event at the White House, reported The Washington Post. “I have a lot of powers with respect to executive orders, and we’re looking at that very seriously right now.”
Meadows said they’ve been looking very closely into this issue with legal counsel and believes that they can address both the enhanced unemployment benefit and extending the eviction moratorium with executive power.
“If Congress can’t get it done, the President of the United States will,” Meadows said.