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Trump Order Extends Unemployment Benefit
By The Associated Press
WASHINGTON - PresidentTrump announced an executive order Saturday that extends additional unemployment payments of up to $400 a week to help cushion the economic fallout of the pandemic.

Congress had approved payments of $600 a week at the outset of the coronavirus outbreak, but those benefits expired Aug. 1 and Congress has been unable to agree on an extension.

Many Republicans have expressed concern that a $600 weekly benefit, on top of existing state benefits, gives people an incentive to stay unemployed.

Under Trump's plan, the $400 a week requires a state to commit to providing $100.

Many states are already facing budget crunches caused by the pandemic. Asked at a news conference how many governors had signed on to participate, Trump answered: “If they don't, they don't. That's up to them.”

Trump expressed a different view on Sunday night, following a day of state officials questioning how they could afford even $100 per person in additional weekly payments. He told reporters as he returned to Washington that states could make application to have the federal government provide all or part of the $400 payments. Decisions would be made state by state, he said.

Whether President Donald Trump has the constitutional authority to extend federal unemployment benefits by executive order remains unclear. 

On CNN's “State of the Nation" White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow said conflicting things about whether the federal money was contingent on an additional contribution from the states. Initially Kudlow said that “for an extra $100, we will lever it up. We will pay three-quarters, and the states will pay 25 percent.” In the same interview, though, he later said that “at a minimum, we will put in 300 bucks ... but I think all they (the states) have to do is put up an extra dollar, and we will be able to throw in the extra $100.”

A clarifying statement from the White House said the “funds will be available for those who qualify by, among other things, receiving $100/week of existing assistance and certify that they have lost their jobs due to COVID-19.”

Several advocacy groups that follow the issue said it's clear the way the executive order is structured that the federal money will be contingent on states making a 25 percent contribution.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat, called the plan “an impossibility.”

“I don’t know if the president is genuine in thinking the executive order is a resolution or if this is just a tactic in the negotiation," Cuomo said. "But this is irreconcilable for the state. And I expect this is just a chapter in the book of Washington COVID mismanagement.”

On CNN, Republican Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine praised Trump for issuing the order.

“He’s trying to do something. He’s trying to move the ball forward,” DeWine said.

Still, he was noncommittal about whether Ohio would participate.

“We’re looking at it right now to see whether we can do this,” he said.

Many states struggled to adjust outdated computer systems to accommodate the $600 payment, which along with the massive influx of new claims resulted in long delays in providing benefits. Reprogramming the computers again to accommodate the new amount could result in similar glitches.

On ABC, Kudlow said that many of those outdated systems have since been upgraded.

“I don’t think there will be a huge delay. Labor Department has been working with the states. The states are the ones that process the federal benefits before. So, I don’t see any reason why it would be all that difficult,” he said.

Published 10:32 PM, Sunday Aug. 09, 2020
Updated 09:41 AM, Monday Aug. 10, 2020

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