‘Unconstitutional Slop’ GOP Senators Revolt Over Trump Executive Order

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Last week at his Bedminster, New Jersey golf club, President Donald Trump signed an executive order outlining a plan for an additional $400 a week in unemployment benefits, 25 percent of which would be covered by states, and which would replace the additional $600 a week that recently expired. It’s unclear when the new benefits would even be able to go out, but in the meantime, there are concerns about the constitutionality of the president’s order. It’s yet another attempt by the Trump administration to essentially take over the disbursement of government funds, which is a Congressional responsibility. Republican members of Congress have criticized the president for the step.

Besides the plan for the unemployment benefits add-on, Trump also signed an order for a deferral of payroll taxes through the end of the year. Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) said:

‘The pen-and-phone theory of executive lawmaking is unconstitutional slop. President Obama did not have the power to unilaterally rewrite immigration law with DACA, and President Trump does not have the power to unilaterally rewrite the payroll tax law.’

Besides the possible unconstitutional nature of the president’s orders, some also fear that the payroll tax deferral in particular could threaten important programs like Social Security, since that’s what those taxes are supposed to fund. During an appearance on Fox News Sunday over the weekend, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin claimed that “the president in no way wants to harm those trust funds, so they’d be reimbursed just as they always have in the past when we’ve done these types of things,” but it remains to be seen how effectively that the Trump administration actually follows through.

Meanwhile, even Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) — an ardent Trump ally — said:

‘I appreciate the President taking this decisive action but would much prefer a congressional agreement. I believe President Trump would prefer the same.’

Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), who is retiring at the end of his current term, added:

Pres. @realDonaldTrump is doing all he can to help workers, students & renters, but Congress is the one who should be acting. Democrats should stop blocking common sense proposals to help students going back to school & college & parents going back to work who need child care.’

“Common sense proposals”? Alexander dubiously acts as though Republicans have had their supposedly valiant plans undercut by Democratic maneuvers. In reality, Democrats passed a new relief package — the HEROES Act — over two months ago; Republicans have been the ones fumbling over themselves.