Earlier in the day, the commander-in-chief issued four executive orders meant to help Americans deal with the economic devastation caused by the coronavirus pandemic. He extended unemployment benefits and offered eviction and student loan relief.
By issuing the orders, he effectively bypassed the U.S. Congress, where Democrats and Republicans have struggled to reach a bipartisan agreement.
Some GOP lawmakers expressed concern about the development.
In a statement, Sen. Ben Sasse — who has previously argued against stimulating the economy amid the coronavirus pandemic — said that “the pen-and-phone theory of executive lawmaking is unconstitutional slop.”
Sasse drew a parallel between Trump’s latest executive orders and former President Barack Obama’s actions pertaining to the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.
“[Obama] did not have the power to unilaterally rewrite immigration law with DACA, and [Trump] does not have the power to unilaterally rewrite the payroll tax law,” he said.
As The Hill noted, Republicans criticized Obama when he used his executive powers to enact policies related to controversial issues such as immigration reform.
Sen. Lamar Alexander of Tennessee said that Trump “is doing all he can to help workers, students and renters, but Congress is the one who should be acting.”
Alexander blamed Democrats for the congressional gridlock, saying that they should “stop blocking common sense proposals to help students going back to school & college & parents going back to work who need child care.”
Michigan Rep. Justin Amash — a libertarian-leaning lawmaker who left the Republican Party last year — suggested that Trump’s actions were unconstitutional.
“Our Constitution doesn’t authorize the president to act as king whenever Congress doesn’t legislate,” he tweeted.
South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham said that he appreciated Trump’s orders, but noted that he “would much prefer a congressional agreement.”
As reported by Forbes, Trump used his executive powers to extend unemployment benefits.
The expired CARES Act provided a $600-per-week unemployment insurance, while Trump’s order calls for a $400 weekly payment.
The executive order related to evictions allows authorities to prevent evictions in consultation with Secretary of the Treasury and the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) director.
One of the executive orders provides relief for borrowers with federally held student loans.
The commander-in-chief — who has long advocated for payroll tax cuts, claiming they would boost the economy — also signed an order to alter the current payroll tax scheme.
According to Joe Biden, the Democratic Party’s presumptive presidential nominee, by deferring the taxes, Trump is putting Social Security at risk.