On August 8, 2020, President Trump signed an executive order and three memoranda aimed at providing additional economic relief to the U.S. economy and its citizens who are severely impacted by the coronavirus pandemic. These documents were issued after talks between the White House and both Congressional chambers failed to reach consensus on another round of stimulus relief. A key component in these actions is the extension of enhanced unemployment benefits, 25 percent of which the President relegated to the states to fund. Other actions include a ‘payroll tax holiday’ for those earning less than $100,000 per year. Additional financial assistance comes in the form of assistance to renters by suspending evictions and extending student loan deferrals. A copy of the presidential proclamations addressing the following topics can be accessed by clicking the links below.
- Unemployment Memorandum
- Payroll Tax Deferment Memorandum
- Renter and Homeowner Relief Executive Order
- Student Loan Relief Memorandum
Democrats have responded by saying the President’s actions are insufficient to address the nation’s need. In particular, they take issue with the lack of state aid and several have indicated the actions may not be legal, as appropriations and other aspects of the orders extend beyond executive branch authority. Many state governors and officials have responded by signing a memorandum that would require states receive a portion of the enhance unemployment benefits expected to be provided by states. California Governor Gavin Newsom said he anticipated the state share of the enhanced unemployment benefits would cost his state approximately an additional $700 million weekly. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell ‘dismissed’ the U.S. Senate for the planned August recess given the breakdown in negotiations. He did, however, indicate that they should be ready to return to Washington, D.C., for a possible vote if a compromise is reached on another stimulus relief package. The U.S. House of Representatives is also on its planned recess. Both Congressional chambers are scheduled to resume legislative work officially after the Labor Day holiday.
Another Executive Order was signed by President Trump which is intended to aid the employment prospects of U.S. workers. The order specifically targets H-1B visa use and requires federal agencies to prioritize hiring U.S. residents (and green card holders) before outsourcing contract jobs to foreign workers. The Department of Labor is also tasked with developing guidance to prevent employers from moving H-1B workers to job sites that would displace American workers. The order requires that Federal agencies complete internal audits regarding whether they are placing only U.S. citizens and nationals in government jobs in the competitive service. A copy of that Order can be found HERE.