//White House Considering Executive Order Suspending Evictions, Payroll Tax As Congress Stalls On Coronavirus Relief

White House Considering Executive Order Suspending Evictions, Payroll Tax As Congress Stalls On Coronavirus Relief

Building off suggestions made Monday, President Donald Trump told reporters Monday that he is considering an executive order that would halt evictions nationally and suspend the payroll tax until the House and Senate can agree on a more long-term coronavirus relief package, according to Fox News.

On Monday, the White House hinted that the president was toying with the option of moving forward on his own, independent “coronavirus relief” package, though initially, the administration was mum on details. Reportedly, members of the Trump administration were analyzing a number of possible scenarios and determining what the president could legally provide or extend without the help of federal legislators.

Although the White House has been focused on pressing Republicans to agree to an extension of federal supplemental unemployment benefits, totally around $600 per week for most unemployed Americans, the president is not legally able to extend those benefits on his own, so he’s focusing, it seems, on areas where an executive order could have an immediate impact.

“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 said during a press conference. “I have a lot of powers with respect to executive orders, and we’re looking at that very seriously right now.”

“They’re thrown out viciously,” the president added. “It’s not their fault.”

“Trump noted that individuals who are evicted often go to homeless shelters where, he said, they could be at higher risk of contracting COVID-19,” Fox said.

That would be a unilateral extension of a provision in the CARES Act, passed in April before most coronavirus-related lockdowns were in place — a program that, Fox notes, is currently assisting 23 million renters.

The White House has also been focused on pressing Republicans to include a temporary suspension of the payroll tax in any concrete coronavirus relief plans, even if that suspension has a significant price tag.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), declined to include the suspension on the grounds that it was a non-starter with Democrats, who have already passed their own version of a relief package, a $3 trillion bill that includes, instead, a suspension of the “SALT” cap, which allows high-income earners, largely in “blue” states, to deduct larger amounts of state and local taxes from their federal income tax.

President Trump claimed to reporters that he is able to use an executive order to suspend the payroll tax.

“I can do that also through executive order, so we’ll be talking about that,” Trump said.

The White House negotiations team, assisting Senate Republicans in their talks with House and Senate Democrats told reporters Monday that the feel confident a deal is closer than it was over the weekend, and that “progress” has been made on a final relief package.

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