“They’re not interested in the people, they’re not interested in unemployment. They’re not interested in evictions — which is a big deal. The evictions — they want to evict a lot of people,” Trump said. “They’re going to be evicted. But I’m going to stop it, because I’ll do it myself if I have to. I have a lot of powers with respect to executive orders and we are looking at that very seriously right now.”
It is not clear at this time what sort of unilateral steps the administration is considering taking without the input of Congress, though throughout negotiations on Capitol Hill, members of the administration have consistently stated that the president is keenly focused on unemployment benefits and protections for homeowners and renters.
“Unilateral action is certainly an option if the Democrats continue to find a plethora of ways to say no to reasonable options,” a senior administration official told ABC News.
Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin and the president’s Chief of Staff, Mark Meadows, did not respond to questions from reporters on Capitol Hill on Monday about any possible executive action by Trump.
Congress has been locked in a stalemate for weeks over how to move forward with a COVID-19 relief bill as several benefits and protections granted in the previous relief bill have expired.
Perhaps the most contentious negotiations have surrounded the $600-a-week expanded unemployment benefits passed in the last stage of coronavirus relief.
Democrats have argued that this benefit, which has since lapsed, was an essential lifeline for struggling Americans.
But Republicans have said that the benefit was paying some workers more than their previous earned income, and in turn was a disincentive to return to work. On Thursday, Republicans attempted to pass a reduced expansion of the unemployment program which would have paid unemployed Americans a $200 weekly bonus through the end of the year.