Photo: Samuel Corum/Getty Images

The White House is finalizing a series of executive orders addressing key coronavirus stimulus priorities if negotiations with Congress fall apart, and it's leaving the door open for President Trump to use them even if a deal is reached that doesn't encompass all of his priorities, two administration officials tell Axios.

What we’re hearing: “I wouldn't be surprised that, if something gets left off the table, we’d be like ‘we can take this executive action too and be able to win on it anyway,’” one official said.

Details: The most likely executive orders would be one to suspend payroll taxes and another to let states use money already allocated in the CARES Act to make unemployment insurance supplemental payments.

  • Trump said Thursday that he expects to sign the executive orders as early as today.

Why it matters: Several of the benefits laid out in the CARES Act have already expired or are close to expiring, and leaders on both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue are still far apart on reaching an agreement on a new tranche of funding.

Behind the scenes: Trump and his top negotiators, White House chief of staff Mark Meadows and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, still prefer to do this legislatively — because they could get huge chunks of money that the White House can’t produce on its own and a bipartisan bill would receive broader support.

  • But the president is also anxious to be seen as being in control of the process, the officials said. Top aides and Republicans have also told him that if they don’t succeed at producing some sort of economic package, Americans will see it as a White House failure.
  • “It’s an election year. We need to get this done. We need to pump money into the economy and the only ones who benefit politically from not doing that are [House Speaker Nancy] Pelosi, [Senate Minority Leader Chuck] Schumer and [Joe] Biden,” one House Republican told Axios.
  • The lawmaker noted that Pelosi and House Democrats already passed a bill, while the Senate has struggled to get support for their own.

What they're saying: “Certainly there are limitations with what we can do from an executive order point of view, but we will be as aggressive and robust as we possibly can be,” Meadows told reporters Thursday evening. “At this point, we're trying to be prepared.”

  • White House spokesman Judd Deere told Axios: “A legislative solution is the priority, but negotiations are a two-way street and Democrats are unfortunately playing politics, which is why President Trump is fully prepared to use his executive authority to help those who continue to be impacted by this virus from China.”

Go deeper

Sep 18, 2020 - Economy & Business

Anxious days for airline workers as mass layoffs loom

Sara Nelson, president of the Association of Flight Attendants, during a Sept. 9 protest outside the Capitol. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

The clock is ticking for tens of thousands of anxious airline employees, who face mass reductions when the government's current payroll support program expires on Sept. 30.

Where it stands: Airline CEOs met Thursday with White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, who said President Trump would support an additional $25 billion from Congress to extend the current aid package through next March.

United Airlines asks Congress, Trump to restart talks on airline aid

Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

United Airlines' CEO Scott Kirby and union leaders asked Congress and the White House in a letter on Friday to restart talks on coronavirus aid, warning that United may be forced to furlough as many as 16,000 employees starting Oct. 1 if the current aid package is not extended.

The state of play: The federal government's payroll support program for airlines is set to expire on Sept. 30. White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows in a meeting with airline executives on Thursday said President Trump would support a $25 billion extension to Congress' current aid package.

Trump, McConnell to move fast to replace Ginsburg

Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

President Trump will move within days to nominate his third Supreme Court justice in just three-plus short years — and shape the court for literally decades to come, top Republican sources tell Axios.

Driving the news: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Senate Republicans are ready to move to confirm Trump's nominee before Election Day, just 46 days away, setting up one of the most consequential periods of our lifetimes, the sources say.