Nancy Pelosi calls President Trump’s executive actions ‘absurdly unconstitutional’

“Well, the fact is, is that whether they’re legal or not takes time to figure out. I associate my remarks with what the Senator (Ben) Sasse who says, they’re ‘unconstitutional slop.’ Right now we want to address the needs of the American people,” she told CNN’s Dana Bash on “State of the Union” when asked if she would sue to block them. “As my constitutional advisers tell me, they’re absurdly unconstitutional.”

On Saturday, Trump bypassed Congress and asserted his executive powers by signing four actions on coronavirus relief after Democrats and the White House were unable to reach an agreement on a stimulus bill.

One of the actions will provide as much as $400 in enhanced unemployment benefits but that memorandum on enhanced unemployment benefits — 25% of which states are being asked to cover — has more strings attached than the White House acknowledged and is seen as a cumbersome effort that may not help a lot of the unemployed.

The other three actions he signed include a memorandum on a payroll tax holiday for Americans earning about $100,000 a year or less, an executive order on “assistance to renters and homeowners” and a memorandum on deferring student loan payments.

After weeks of negotiations on the next stimulus bill between Pelosi, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, and lead White House negotiators Trump chief of staff Mark Meadows and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, talks broke down on Friday. The Trump administration rejected a Democratic offer to agree to a stimulus price tag of around $2 trillion with Mnuchin calling it “a non-starter.”

Asked if Democrats were willing to continue to keep negotiating a coronavirus relief bill, Pelosi told Bash on Sunday, “Well, we have to. We have to, and that’s why we were willing to say we’ll come down a trillion.”

Many questions have been raised on the effectiveness of Trump’s executive actions and if states have funding available for the benefits. Because Congress has not authorized an extension of additional federal unemployment assistance, the state will have to set up an entirely new system to deliver the additional aid, which could take months. The memorandum signed by the President was not an unemployment insurance benefit and would not come through the unemployment insurance program already instituted in states.

CNN previously reported that Democrats are likely to challenge the executive actions in court.

Schumer called Trump’s actions “meager” on Saturday and on Sunday the New York Democrat wouldn’t say if the President’s action were legal or if he would pursue legal action.

“The event at the country club is just what Trump does, a big show but it doesn’t do anything, and as the American people look at these executive orders they’ll see they don’t come close to doing the job,” he said during an interview on ABC’s “This Week.”

He added, “I’ll leave that up to the attorneys, it doesn’t do the job. It’s not going to go into effect in most places for weeks and months because it’s so put together in a crazy way.”

Pelosi on Sunday also criticized the President’s actions, saying much is left out.

“Everything is left out, our assistance to the schools, feeding the hungry, helping people who are going to be evicted,” she said. “The President’s moratorium, he just did a study or a look at a moratorium. So again, something’s wrong.”

This story has been updated with additional developments.

CNN’s Aaron Pellish, Kristen Holmes, Tami Luhby, Jeremy Diamond and Nicky Robertson contributed to this report.



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