WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump said Monday he may take executive action to impose a moratorium on evictions with talks on a new coronavirus relief plan stalled in Congress.
The White House is also exploring whether the president can act on his own to extend enhanced unemployment insurance payments that, like an eviction moratorium, were part of stimulus legislation enacted in March but now have expired.
"They're not interested in unemployment, they're not interested in evictions, which is a big deal," Trump said of Democrats in remarks to reporters at the White House. "People are going to be evicted. But I'm going to stop it, because I'll do it myself if I have to."
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Trump's chief of staff, Mark Meadows, wrapped up another meeting at the Capitol Monday with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer.
Pelosi called the session "productive," and Schumer said "there is a desire to get something done" quickly.
The two sides are trying to close the gap between the $3.5 trillion Democratic plan passed by the House in May and the $1 trillion package of aid Senate Republicans introduced last week.
It wasn't immediately clear how Trump would be able to accomplish either stopping evictions or extending unemployment aid without Congress acting, and the president offered no details.
Talks to break an impasse have become increasingly urgent with millions of jobless Americans left without additional aid, and the Senate scheduled to leave for an extended break on Friday. The expired $600-a-week supplemental unemployment and moratorium on evictions have become a focus as the coronavirus pandemic continues to surge across the country and economic data shows the economy still staggering.
Pelosi has rejected breaking off the unemployment aid or the eviction halt as separate pieces of legislation without an agreement on a comprehensive package of economic measures.
Meadows said Sunday on CBS' "Face the Nation" that he's "not optimistic that there will be a solution in the very near term."
Pelosi on Monday accused Republicans of focusing on ways to cut aid to the economy when much more stimulus is needed, pointing to spiking numbers of COVID-19 cases and deaths as well the sustained high numbers of people filing claims for unemployment.
"It's absolutely essential that we reach agreement," she said on CNN. "We have an emergency. A building is on fire, and they are deciding how much water they want in the bucket."