By BENJAMIN SIEGEL and SARAH KOLINOVSKY, ABC News
(WASHINGTON) — Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin on Monday said that states will be able to “execute” new weekly federal unemployment benefits of up to $400 within two weeks, after the Trump administration repeatedly declined to offer a timeline for the new benefits announced by President Donald Trump over the weekend, following the collapse of coronavirus relief negotiations with Democrats.
“Within the next week or two, most will be able to execute,” said Mnuchin, who answered the question posed to Trump at his news conference Monday, at the president’s suggestion.
Earlier in the day, White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany told reporters that the benefit would be delivered to Americans “quickly” and “close to immediately,” but did not provide a more specific timetable. On Saturday, Trump said it would be “rapidly distributed.”
Trump took action to create a new federal unemployment benefit over the weekend, redirecting up to $44 billion in disaster relief funds from the Federal Emergency Management Agency for the states to distribute. The federal government is set to contribute $300 a week, with states expected to contribute an additional $100 under the memorandum. The benefit would only be available to workers already collecting at least $100 in other unemployment benefits.
The president also signed an executive order directing the federal government to work to limit evictions and a memoranda to defer payroll taxes for employers and student loan payments — a series of unilateral steps aimed at addressing the concerns of Americans in the pandemic and ongoing recession, after negotiations collapsed between senior administration officials and Democratic leaders over the scope of additional relief funds.
Democrats and some Republicans criticized the president’s executive actions after the coronavirus relief negotiations broke down on Capitol Hill between the Trump administration and Democratic leaders, as some governors warned that their states would not be able to afford to contribute 25% of the benefit under the president’s memorandum.
“We appreciate the White House’s proposals to provide additional solutions to address economic challenges; however, we are concerned about the significant administrative burdens and costs this latest action would place on the states,” New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson, the chair and vice chair of the National Governors Association, said in a statement Monday.
Democrats have pushed a $3 trillion package passed by the Democratic-led House in May, while Mnuchin and White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows began discussions after Senate GOP leaders introduced a $1 trillion proposal that had divided their own conference.
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