1 of 3 | President Donald Trump took executive action Friday after negotiators failed to agree on a stimulus package. Photo by Aaron Josefczyk/UPI | License Photo
Aug. 7 (UPI) -- During a primetime news conference Friday, President Donald Trump said he plans to take action to extend some coronavirus relief benefits after negotiators were unable to come to terms on a stimulus package earlier in the day.
He made the announcement during a last-minute news conference at the Trump National Golf Club Bedminster in New Jersey, where he traveled to late Thursday.
It's unclear if he imminently plans to sign executive orders or if his remarks Friday were meant to pressure Democrats to support the terms he seeks in the next coronavirus relief bill.
"If Democrats continue to hold this critical relief hostage, I will act under my authority as president to get Americans the relief they need," Trump said.
He accused Democrats of insisting on "radical, left-wing policies that have nothing to do" with the novel coronavirus that has killed more than 160,000 Americans.
Of the benefits he seeks to implement are a deferment of the payroll tax retroactive to July 1 until the end of the year; an extension of enhanced unemployment benefits until the end of the year; an extension of the eviction moratorium; ad a deferment of student loan payments and interest accrual "until further notice."
Trump's announcement comes after negotiations between Democrats and administration officials fell apart. The leaders set Friday as a deadline to come to an agreement for the next stimulus package, but were unable to do so.
Negotiations on the next COVID-19 relief bill fell apart Friday, with Democratic leaders and administration officials failing to meet their self-imposed deadline for a deal.
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and White House chief of staff Mark Meadows said they planned to urge Trump to sign executive orders to for the stimulus benefits his administration views as critical.
We "will recommend to the president based upon our lack of activity today to move forward with some executive orders," Mnuchin told reporters after Friday's failed meeting.
"It's going to take us a little bit of time to finalize these and process them."
White House negotiators previously suggested a short-term stopgap measure that would extend the unemployment, eviction and student loan relief, but Democrats opposed the idea.
"When you're having an opportunity like this to do something for the American people, it's an opportunity, but we can't have it be a missed opportunity to do that by settling for something so low, so beneath meeting the needs of the American people," House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said.
Earlier in the week, Democratic and Republican negotiators indicated that though they were still far apart on coming to an agreement, they were hopeful of having a deal ready by Friday.
Mnuchin and Meadows told reporters late Thursday that Pelosi and Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer didn't seem "serious" about wanting to find a deal.
Meadows said the White House offered "significantly greater" compromises than Democrats for the relief package, and added that Trump is "coming to the realization that perhaps some of our Democrats ... are not serious about compromise and are not serious about trying to meet the needs of the American people."
"I think there's a lot of issues we are close to a compromise position on, but I think there's a handful of very big issues that we are still very far apart," Mnuchin added.
One issue is funding for state and local governments whose finances have been sapped by the pandemic, he said. The administration has resisted "bailouts" for local governments while Democrats are seeking nearly $1 trillion for state aid.
Schumer said he was "very disappointed" in the meeting.
"They were unwilling to meet in the middle," he said.
"We are very far apart -- it's most unfortunate," Pelosi added, saying that Meadows slammed the table and stormed out of the room at one point -- a claim Meadows denied.
Pelosi said Democrats won't settle for a short-term extension for enhanced unemployment benefits in a stand-alone measure, as Republicans want, and will insist on continuing a federal payment of $600 per week. Republicans have proposed continuing the enhanced benefit, but at a reduced amount.
"We have said that we are going to have the $600," Pelosi said. "They know that we want the $600."
Pelosi and Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell, however, said they do expect a deal, which might include another direct stimulus payment to Americans. They just don't know when it will happen.
"I think it will at some point in the near future," McConnell told CNBC Thursday.
"Will we find a solution? We will," Pelosi added.
McConnell didn't officially adjourn the Senate for its August recess at the end of business Thursday, as originally scheduled. He allowed Senators to return to their home states, but said they will be recalled if there's a deal to vote on.