Trump pledges executive orders to extend Covid relief, but offers few details

President says he will suspend payroll tax and extend unemployment through end of year amid gridlock in Congress

Donald Trump has promised unilateral action to provide economic relief for millions of Americans hit by the coronavirus pandemic, but he offered few specific details and admitted the move is likely to face legal challenges.

The president’s pledge to rescue people from poverty and homelessness took place against the unlikely backdrop of his luxury golf club, where annual fees run to hundreds of thousands of dollars a year, with members in T-shirts not physically distancing as they watched and applauded him.

Trump called the sudden press conference at his club in Bedminster, New Jersey, on Friday evening after the collapse of talks between White House and Democratic negotiators in Washington. “If Democrats continue to hold this critical relief hostage, I will act under my authority as president to get Americans the relief they need,” the president said.

Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi depart a meeting on coronavirus relief on Friday. Photograph: Andrew Harnik/AP

He vowed to suspend payroll tax and extend unemployment benefits until the end of the year, defer student loan payments indefinitely and forgive interest, and extend a moratorium on evictions.

Asked when the executive orders would be ready, Trump said it “could be by the end of the week. They’re being drawn by the lawyers right now.”

Trump has frequently tested the boundaries of executive power and many experts have argued that spending money on relief efforts without congressional authorisation would be inviting a battle in court.

Continued in The Guardian