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Latest federal pandemic relief package, including weekly unemployment checks, may see court challenge

Photo credit: iStock.com/DmyTo

President Donald Trump on Saturday signed executive orders replacing the expired $600 weekly unemployment benefit with $400 per week and  deferring payroll taxes after Congress missed a Friday deadline to iron out those and other details in a new coronavirus relief package.

The $600 weekly federal benefit, which expired on Aug. 1, had supplemented state unemployment checks that millions of Americans had been receiving after losing their jobs during the pandemic.

Congressional negotiations to extend the federal benefit – as well as another round of $1,200 direct payments to most people – have been log jammed for weeks, as Democrats and Republicans try to sign the fifth COVID-19 relief bill into law.

COVID-19 Q&A – KNOW YOUR RIGHTS

However, the executive orders, which also defer federal student loan payments and extend a freeze on some evictions during the outbreak, could face legal challenges questioning the president’s authority to spend taxpayer dollars without the express approval of Congress.

Other caveats apply. Trump is asking states to cover 25 percent of the cost of the new benefit. The previous $600 weekly payments were fully funded by the federal government. As for the payroll tax deferral, which runs from Aug. 1 to the end of the year, employees who use the benefit will have to repay the federal government without an act of Congress.

Click here for information on Washington state resources for workers affected by coronavirus.

Emery Reddy helps workers. Call us if you have an L&I, workers’ comp, injury, or other employment law claim. You won’t get better advice.

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