Trump says he may suspend payroll tax collection without Congress: 'I have the absolute right'

'I may do it myself'

President Trump said Wednesday that he has the "absolute right" to suspend payroll tax collections without the approval of Congress.

The president made the comments during an appearance on "Fox & Friends" after telling reporters at the White House on Tuesday that he could issue an executive order suspending evictions and payroll cuts.

"I may do it myself," the president said. "We're negotiating right now. I have the right to suspend it, and I may do it myself. I have the absolute right to suspend the payroll. ... That's an incentive to people—small businesses and businesses generally to hire back their workers."

He added that "the Democrat states — they don't want to open up anything. They don't want their schools open, they don't want their businesses open, they want to keep it shut, and you can't do that."

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Republicans and Democrats have spent weeks butting heads over a new coronavirus stimulus package, including the $3.5 trillion House-approved HEROES Act and the $1 trillion Senate-introduced HEALS Act, as millions of unemployed Americans struggle to make ends meet.

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Federal unemployment benefits ended in July, and Congress has been struggling to negotiate between $200-per-week benefits proposal from Republicans and a $600-per-week benefits proposal, which is the same amount previously offered to unemployed Americans, from Democrats.

Republicans argue that the $600 benefits, on top of state unemployment benefits, could hurt Americans in the long term as an incentive to remain out of work.

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The president has considered moving in on a payroll tax cut since the early months of the pandemic, but the idea received little support fro Democrats and Republicans alike.

Unemployment claims have topped 1 million for the past 18 weeks, whereas the previous record high, set in 1982, was 695,000. A record 20.5 million Americans, of 14.7 percent of the population, were jobless in April. Numbers have since rebounded but with slow recovery, as some states started reported new spikes in virus cases.

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