Democrat leaders – ignoring their latest in a decade-long string of failures at legislative compromise – are blasting President Donald Trump for signing executive orders that won’t provide all needed Covid-19 economic relief.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer called the orders signed Saturday by Trump “unworkable, weak and far too narrow.” He also took issue with Trump’s signing the orders at his New Jersey country club.
“The event at the country club is just what Trump does – a big show, but it doesn’t do anything,” Schumer said Sunday in an ABC News interview. “As the American people look at these executive orders, they’ll see they don’t come close to doing the job in two ways: one, what they proposed, and second, what’s left out.”
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But the alternative was no relief at all after Democrats and Republicans in Congress failed to reach a compromise on a broader relief package that would include stimulus checks for Americans and funding for cash-strapped cities and states.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was confronted with that reality in a Fox News interview with host Chris Wallace.
“I understand that the president’s executive action doesn’t do all the things that you want, but having no bill at all, not coming to any agreement wasn’t going to provide any of the things that you want, either,” Wallace said. “You’re known as a master negotiator, but didn’t you mess this one up?”
“Clearly you don’t have an understanding of what is happening here,” Pelosi said, pointing to the “weakness” of Trump’s orders and a failure by Republicans to provide enough money for such necessary measures as food aid for children, election funding and US Postal Service funding.
Trump’s orders included partial federal funding to replace an expired unemployment benefit, protection from evictions and foreclosures, deferring of student loan payments and suspending payroll taxes for most workers. In announcing the orders, he said, “Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer have chosen to hold this vital assistance hostage on behalf of very extreme partisan demands.”
Wallace again pointed out the difference between limited relief versus no aid at all: “Won’t millions of Americans now get some extended federal unemployment relief and some protection from evictions – get that now rather than getting nothing at all?”
Pelosi called the orders “unconstitutional slop,” quoting Republican Senator Ben Sasse, and said they aren’t a viable replacement to the package proposed by Democrats. “This being a Sunday morning, I recall a prayer that says, pray for those who are hungry. Pray harder for those who will not feed them. Pray for those who are homeless. Pray harder for those who will not give them shelter. Pray for those who are sick and lonely. Pray harder for those who will not give them comfort.”
Her reference to prayer was ironic, inasmuch as Democrats such as Senator Chris Coons and Schumer have long mocked Republicans for extending “thoughts and prayers” after mass shootings while failing to pass gun control laws.
The conflict marks the latest skirmish in a battle over increasing use of executive powers by Trump and his predecessors in lieu of legislative solutions in a US political system that is ever-more polarized and incapable of compromises. While Democrats accused Trump of using ineffectual theatrics to win votes rather than focusing on the needs of Americans, the same could be said of Congress.
After taking control of the House in the 2018 midterm election, Pelosi has invested time and political capital in efforts to destroy Trump, such as impeaching the president last December, rather than pursuing a viable legislative agenda. She tore up a printout of Trump’s State of the Union speech to Congress in February, just as the president was wrapping up and thanking the audience.
Pelosi criticized Trump for trying to give Americans financial relief at the expense of Social Security and Medicare funding by suspending payroll taxes, although Congress passed and later extended cuts to those same taxes proposed by President Barack Obama to boost the US economy in 2010 and 2012.
President Trump’s meager executive actions do little for working families. Republicans must come back to the negotiating table, meet us halfway and work toward a compromise that will truly help American workers and families. #FamiliesFirst #FoxNewsSunday pic.twitter.com/vAvoLnKIoa
— Nancy Pelosi (@SpeakerPelosi) August 9, 2020
Pelosi supporters on Twitter largely agreed with her criticism of Trump’s orders, but one urged her to work on a stimulus package because “we need help.” Another pointed out the apparent disconnect between calling Trump’s orders unconstitutional while also saying that his efforts didn’t provide all the needed help: “So you think his actions should have gone farther? Because he has unlimited power? How about mentioning how unconstitutional his orders were? Or do we not care about that?”
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