Aug 9, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Kudlow says he regrets claiming Trump couldn't use executive order for unemployment

White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow said on CNN's "State of the Union" Sunday that he regrets suggesting this week that unemployment benefits can only be extended by Congress.

Why it matters: President Trump's decision to bypass Congress to sign four executive actions, including one that provides $400 per week in extra unemployment benefits, has prompted outcry from Democrats and even some Republicans who believe he is overstepping his constitutional authority.

  • Trump, who signed the orders after negotiations with Democrats over coronavirus relief broke down, has limited power to unilaterally appropriate federal spending and risks a legal challenge.
  • Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) was among the Republicans who condemned Trump's move, calling it "unconstitutional slop."

What he's saying: Asked to clarify an interview he gave earlier in the week to Fox Business, Kudlow said: "I'm not the lawyer and I probably spoke out of turn there."

  • "I was thinking at that point we might be able to get a deal with congressional Democrats. As you know, we were unable to get that deal. We tried a couple times, we offered compromises, we couldn't get it.
  • "So the president decided to take action on his own. Of course I think he was right to do so, and when the lawyers gave me a green light then, sure, no problem."

The big picture: Kudlow acknowledged that it's not clear whether states have the money to provide 25% of the additional unemployment benefits, as ordered by Trump. "We'll probably find that out today or tomorrow as we make our canvas," he told CNN.

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