Several GOP senators voiced discomfort regarding President TrumpDonald John TrumpJoe Arpaio loses bid for his old position as sheriff Trump brushes off view that Russia denigrating Biden: 'Nobody's been tougher on Russia than I have' Trump tees up executive orders on economy but won't sign yet MORE's decision Saturday to sign four executive orders meant to address the economic fall out of the coronavirus and bypassing Congress.
At his private club in Bedminster, N.J., Trump signed orders that extend unemployment benefits, suspend payroll taxes, and offer federal eviction and student loan relief after lawmakers and members of the Trump administration failed to reach an agreement on a fifth coronavirus bill this week.
However, some members of the president's party took issue with the move, asserting that Congress should be legislating.
Sen. Ben SasseBenjamin (Ben) Eric SasseDemocrats seek to exploit Trump-GOP tensions in COVID-19 talks On The Trail: The first signs of a post-Trump GOP McConnell: 15-20 GOP senators will not vote for any coronavirus deal MORE (R-Nebr.), who has largely spoken out against the government spending large sums of money in coronavirus legislation, offered one of the party's more cutting rebukes, calling the theory behind the move “unconstitutional slop.”
“The pen-and-phone theory of executive lawmaking is unconstitutional slop,” Sasse said in a statement issued by email and obtained by The Hill. “President Obama did not have the power to unilaterally rewrite immigration law with DACA, and President Trump does not have the power to unilaterally rewrite the payroll tax law.“
During the Obama administration, conservatives often criticized the president’s use of executive actions on issues that were stuck in Congress, such as immigration reform.
The president's executive orders come as pressure on the White House and Senate GOP to strike a deal with congressional Democratic leadership mounted this week, with negotiators racing to meet a self-imposed deadline of Friday.
However, the White House and Democrats were unable to agree on a proposal as the programs established by the CARES Act in March expired.
Senate Judiciary Chairman Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamThe Hill's Campaign Report: Trump's visit to battleground Ohio overshadowed by coronavirus New polls show tight races for Graham, McConnell Yates spars with GOP at testy hearing MORE (R) offered less harsh comments, saying that while he appreciated the president’s orders, he “would much prefer a congressional agreement.”
Sen. Lamar AlexanderAndrew (Lamar) Lamar AlexanderThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by the Air Line Pilots Association - Negotiators 'far apart' as talks yield little ahead of deadline Trump-backed Hagerty wins Tennessee GOP Senate primary The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by the Air Line Pilots Association - Key 48 hours loom as negotiators push for relief deal MORE (R-Tenn.), blamed Democrats for failing to reach an agreement, but indicated he didn't support the president circumventing Congress.
“The president is doing all he can to help workers, students and renters, but Congress is the one who should be acting," Alexander said in a statement.
Pres. @realDonaldTrump is doing all he can to help workers, students & renters, but Congress is the one who should be acting. Democrats should stop blocking common sense proposals to help students going back to school & college & parents going back to work who need child care.— Sen. Lamar Alexander (@SenAlexander) August 8, 2020
Rep. Justin AmashJustin AmashPeter Meijer wins GOP primary in Amash's Michigan district Amash confirms he won't seek reelection Democrats fear US already lost COVID-19 battle MORE (L-Mich.), a libertarian who left the Republican caucus last year, compared the president’s actions to that of a “king.”
“Our Constitution doesn’t authorize the president to act as king whenever Congress doesn’t legislate,” Amash posted on Twitter.
Our Constitution doesn’t authorize the president to act as king whenever Congress doesn’t legislate.— Justin Amash (@justinamash) August 8, 2020
It is still unclear if it is legal for Trump to unilaterally intervene on unemployment and other benefits, with the president intimating on Saturday in New Jersey that he does anticipate law suits against the orders.