In reaction to the gridlock currently taking place legislature over the next stimulus package, the President signed an executive order and three memoranda over the weekend. Below is a list of actions that were taken by the executive branch.
- Unemployment benefits - The federal government will contribute $300 of the $400 payment for unemployment benefits with the remaining $100 being contributed by the states, retroactively starting on August 1st. It is possible that state governors will push back on providing 25% of the bill since state revenues have decreased since the onset of the pandemic. The memorandum directs up to $44 billion from the Disaster Relief Fund to go towards this benefit. It is possible that there will be a legal challenge to this in the future. The situation is ongoing.
- Banning evictions – President Trump leaves the decision to ban evictions in the hands of Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Robert Redfield. So far they have not taken any position on the matter. The memo states, “The secretary of Health and Human Services and the director of CDC shall consider whether any measures temporarily halting residential evictions of any tenants for failure to pay rent are reasonably necessary to prevent the further spread of COVID-19 from one state or possession into any other state or possession…” The memorandum leaves the decision to provide financial assistance to renters in the hands of Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson.
- Student loan deferral – This memorandum waives student loan interest and payments until December 31, 2020 on loans held by the Department of Education. This does not apply to privately held student loans.
- Payroll tax deferral – The deferral period would start on September 1, 2020 and extend until December 31, 2020 for people earning less than $100,000, or less than $4,000 every two weeks before taxes. Since this is a tax deferral, you would still have to pay those taxes after the deferral period ends. The memo specifies that Secretary Mnuchin can, “defer the withholding, deposit, and payment of the tax.” US Code also stipulates that Mnuchin can extend this for one year.
Negotiations continue for the next stimulus package this week and by reports, Senate and House leadership will remain in Washington, D.C. until an agreement is reached.