BATON ROUGE, La. (BRProud) — U.S. Senator Bill Cassidy (R-LA) joined morning news anchor Kelly Anne Beile live in-studio after he released a statement supporting President Donald Trump’s recent executive actions intended to help Americans affected economically by the pandemic.
“President Trump is doing what Nancy Pelosi won’t do: provide direct aid to Americans who need it. Republicans have repeatedly offered to extend unemployment; she refuses each time, preferring instead to use this lifeline for political leverage to advance liberal special interests. Ms. Pelosi should put politics aside and work for the common good.”U.S. Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-LA)
There are four pillars to President Trump’s executive memorandums: student loan relief, payroll tax deferral, unemployment benefits and rent moratoriums. Perhaps the one issue most highly debated is the President’s plan to extend federal unemployment benefits.
The memorandum would provide unemployment benefits of $400 per week to millions of Americans. This is a $200 drop from the original $600 provided through the CARES Act, and would require states to cover 25% of the cost, or $100. Critics have expressed concern that states are already facing a budget crunch due to the health crisis.
“Twenty-five percent is coming from money which Congress has given states (thru the CARES Act), so it isn’t that the state is taking it out of their general fund, they’re taking it out of money which Congress has given them to address the pandemic,” said Cassidy.
Louisiana lawmakers allocated all of their federal funding from the CARES Act to fill gaps in the state budget during the most recent special session. Cassidy said he spoke with Gov. John Bel Edwards after the President’s actions and understands Louisiana has already obligated the money. “I’m not saying this is ideal, but I’m saying this is what the President could get done while we’re waiting for Ms. (Nancy) Pelosi to say, ‘Okay, I’ll come to the bargaining table in good faith,” Cassidy said.
Additionally, the memorandum on unemployment benefits does not apply to individuals who earn less than $100 per week. Critics claim this leaves out support for the poorest Americans and omits workers like bartenders and gig workers who earn tips while making as little as $2.13/hr.
“This is not optimal, but when Speaker Pelosi says, ‘Listen, I’m not going to allow you to continue the $600 a week unemployment because I want everything,’ what she’s really saying is, ‘I’m going to use the pain of the American people – those who are unemployed – as a point of leverage to make Republicans, the President, bend to my will,'” Cassidy said.
U.S. Rep. Cedric Richmond (D-LA), the only Democrat in Louisiana’s delegation, has said President Trump does not have the authority to enforce the executive actions. “Instead of showing the leadership necessary to bring people together and fix the problem, he just continues to distract and destruct everything,” Richmond said. “He knows, and we know, that most the things he signed were unconstitutional.”
Cassidy said he spoke to the President’s chief of staff Mark Meadows, and was told The White House feels as though they are in their constitutional powers. “If Pelosi wants to sue the President for attempting to extend unemployment to people she won’t give unemployment to,” said Cassidy, “I think the President is probably saying, ‘Bring it on.'”