The following information was provided to us from NEFI.
Enhanced Unemployment Benefits
Orders the weekly enhanced unemployment benefit of $600 per week be extended at $400 per week. The $600 per week benefit provided under the CARES Act expired at midnight on July 31. The White House wants states to cover 25% of the cost of the extended benefit through unused federal coronavirus funding. The remainder would be paid-for by repurposing of federal disaster relief funds. It is unclear if the benefit will be lower if states refuse this request. The benefit under the president’s order would expire on December 6, 2020 or when funds runout, whichever occurs first. The extension of federal unemployment benefits under the CARES Act has become a major point of contention between Democrats and Republicans. TEXT
Suspension of Payroll Taxes
Instructs the Secretary of Treasury to allow employers to defer “withholding, deposit, and payment” of employee-side Social Security payroll taxes through the end of 2020. Note, however, that it would be limited to Americans earning less than $100,000. The text says it would begin September 1, but President Trump stated his intent that it be in effect retroactively beginning August 1. It is unclear how all of this will be implemented. Also, this is not a tax cut – it is basically a temporary deferral of payroll taxes that would otherwise be owed. These unpaid taxes would still be owed following the suspension period. So, President Trump has promised to seek legislation to forgive amounts owed and make the tax cut permanent if he is reelected. TEXT
Moratoria on Evictions & Foreclosures
Establishes that it is the policy of the federal government to minimize renter and homeowner evictions during the pandemic. It instructs relevant departments, including the Treasury and Housing & Urban Affairs, to take actions as necessary to implement this policy. Note that the federal moratorium on evictions provided in the CARES Act expired at midnight on July 24. TEXT
Student Loan Relief
Continues the suspension of monthly payments and zero-percent interest on all federal students loans through December 31, 2020. Current student loan relief under the CARES Act is set to expire on September 30, 2020. TEXT
The White House has promised additional actions in the coming days to shore-up the economy and support workers and small businesses as talks in Congress continue to stall. Critics do not believe the president has authority under the Constitution to take many of these actions or to repurpose federal funds to pay for them. The courts may have final say in whether these orders are successful in achieving the President’s goals in the absence of federal legislation. Even if they are struck down, the White House likely hopes these orders will put added political pressure on Democrats to return to the negotiating table and come to agreement on a new coronavirus relief package.