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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Democratic lawyers are preparing to challenge any effort by President Trump to swap electors chosen by voters with electors selected by Republican-controlled legislatures. One state of particular concern: Pennsylvania, where the GOP controls the state house.

Why it matters: Trump's refusal to commit to a peaceful transfer of power, together with a widely circulated article in The Atlantic about how bad the worst-case scenarios could get, is drawing new attention to the brutal fights that could jeopardize a final outcome.

House Democrats prepare new $2.4 trillion COVID-19 relief package

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi. Photo: Liz Lynch/Getty Images

House Democrats are preparing a slimmed-down coronavirus relief proposal focused on unemployment and direct payments that would cost roughly $2.4 trillion.

Why it matters: Democrats and Republicans have been deadlocked in negotiations for more aid despite CARES Act funds expiring over the summer.

Updated Sep 24, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Republicans condemn Trump's refusal to commit to peaceful transfer of power

Photo: Joshua Roberts/Getty Images

A number of prominent Republican lawmakers addressed President Trump's refusal on Wednesday to commit to a peaceful transfer of power if he loses November's presidential election.

Driving the news: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell tweeted, "The winner of the November 3rd election will be inaugurated on January 20th. There will be an orderly transition just as there has been every four years since 1792."