Can Trump bypass Congress to extend coronavirus aid?

As Democrats and Republicans fail to agree on benefits, Trump claims he will use executive power to extend. Can he?

With congressional Democrats and White House negotiators so far unable to agree on a deal to salve the heavy economic toll of the coronavirus pandemic, United States President Donald Trump has threatened to bypass Congress with an executive order.

Some of his proposals exceed his legal authority and would face immediate legal challenges, though in at least one case, House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi, the nation’s top Democrat, told him to just go ahead.

What does Trump want to do?

Trump said on Twitter he is considering executive orders to continue expanded unemployment benefits, reinstate a moratorium on evictions, cut payroll taxes and continue a suspension of student loan repayments amid a health crisis that has killed nearly 160,000 Americans.

He and administration officials negotiating with Congress have not provided specifics.

Does he have the power? 

The constitution puts control of federal spending in the hands of Congress, not the president, so Trump does not have the legal authority to issue executive orders determining how money should be spent on the coronavirus.

A cut would disproportionately benefit Americans with high salaries and threaten funding for the popular programmes for retirees. It also only benefits people still getting pay cheques, not those who have lost their jobs.

The parties are closer together on student loans. Democrats included a 12-month extension of the student loan payment suspension in a relief bill the House passed in May. Republican senators did not include student loan relief in the proposal they unveiled in July.

However, there is a Republican plan in Congress to extend the suspension for three months.

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