by Dan McCaleb
President Donald Trump on Saturday signed executive orders to supplement unemployment benefits for workers who lose their jobs during the coronavirus pandemic by $400 a week and suspend payroll taxes for those earning less than $100,000 a year.
He also signed orders freezing evictions in federal housing and deferring student loan payments through the end of 2020.
“Through these four actions, my administration will provide vital relief to Americans struggling during this difficult time,” Trump said during a Saturday news conference at his private club in Bedminster, N.J.
The $400 weekly federal unemployment supplement is less than the $600 a week one approved through the CARES Act passed by Congress and signed by the president in late March, which expired last month. But many Republicans and employers said the $600 additional benefit was a disincentive for some to return to their jobs as government restrictions to slow the spread of COVID-19 eased.
Nearly 70 percent of workers made more in unemployment benefits with the $600-a-week added benefit, according to a study.
Trump’s executive actions are expected to be challenged by Democrats in court and come after Republicans and Democrats failed to reach an agreement on a new stimulus package during the past two weeks, but the president said something needed to be done.
“We’ve had it,” he said. “We’re going to save American jobs and provide relief to the American worker.”
More than 16 million Americans remained unemployed in July because of state and local restrictions placed on individuals and businesses to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus.
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