On Saturday, President Trump signed an executive order to keep unemployment benefits at a reduced rate of $400 a week – but he expects states to come up with 25 percent of the funding.
The decision came after Congress failed to negotiate an extension plan for the CARES Act, which expired on July 31, and previously granted unemployed Americans $600 a week on top of state-administered benefits.
Now, under Trump’s dubious new order, the federal government would supply $300 per-person per-state in unemployment benefits, with each state responsible for funding the last $100. That would mean a $4 billion cost for New York alone, Gothamist reported.
“What the president has done has made it impossible, impossible on the states,” Gov. Cuomo said in a press conference on Sunday.
“This is going to have to be resolved. I don’t know if the president is genuine in thinking the executive order is a resolution, or if this is just a tactic in the negotiation, but this [is] irreconcilable for the state.”
In response, the Department of Labor issued a statement urging New Yorkers collecting unemployment insurance to continue certifying for weekly benefits while they analyze Trump’s announcement.
“We will process any additional benefits if/when they come due if you continue to certify,” the statement said.
In the meantime, the DOL has asked New Yorkers to refrain from calling unemployment services to inquire about the announcement.
Critics have expressed concern that the new payments wouldn’t be available quickly enough, and it would only be a viable option if states agree to the plan. So far, Cuomo has called the order “laughable.”
“I suspect this is just a chapter in the book of Washington COVID mismanagement,” Cuomo said. “[Trump] can’t do it with an executive order. It’s on shaky ground, legally, but even to the extent that he’s executed executive orders, they aren’t going to meet the demand.”
Federal aid for the new program would include $44 billion from the Department of Homeland Security’s disaster relief fund, which is typically reserved for wildfires, hurricanes, or other natural disaster relief.
The new order suggests the program would last until December, when the funding runs out, or until Congress passes new legislation regarding federal aid, CNBC reported.
Economic advisor Larry Kudlow told CNN that the payments could take weeks to become available. Others believe that if the order does go through, they won’t be available any time soon.
“Nobody is going to see this money in August, and we’ll be lucky to see it in September,” said Andrew Stettner, a senior fellow at the Century Foundation, a public policy research group told the New York Times.
Former Bushwick City Council member Rafael Espinal tweeted his criticism on Saturday, saying that the efforts “don’t come close to bailing us out.”
In June, the unemployment rate for Kings County was 20.5% – making it the third highest in New York City behind the Bronx and Queens.