Summary of President Donald Trump’s four COVID-19 executive orders signed on August 8, 2020


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  1. Unemployment Insurance: Under the CARES Act, passed into law earlier this year, unemployed workers received an additional $600 in weekly benefits from the federal government. The $600 in aid expired at the end of July, leaving workers to rely on often meager state benefits. President Trump’s executive order cuts aid by $200, to $400 per week. However, the order requires state governments to pay 25 percent ($100) of the $400 Unemployment Insurance (UI) benefit. Due to the pandemic, many states cannot afford the additional $100 thereby further reducing aid to $300. This executive order uses funds that were intended to be used to assist victims of natural disasters like hurricanes. The loss of funding compromises our country’s ability to help families and communities ravaged by natural disasters.  Additionally, the executive order creates a new program that will be difficult for states to implement quickly, therefore many workers will not receive benefits for several weeks. The federal aid would run out in months or even weeks.
  1. Payroll Taxes Deferral: President Trump’s memorandum on payroll taxes stops the collection of worker payroll taxes for Social Security from Sept 1 to Dec 31 for workers making under $104,000 per year. The proposal is a tax deferral, not a permanent tax cut. These taxes would ultimately need to be paid back by workers. Payroll taxes fund Social Security. If these deferred payroll taxes are not paid back or replaced, it would undermine funding for Social Security, threatening the viability of the program.These temporary tax deferral benefits would only go to those currently working and would not benefit the millions who are out of work due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
  1. Evictions: Tens of millions of Americans are at risk of eviction due to the COVID crisis.To help address this, the CARES Act banned evictions of renters receiving federal housing assistance or living in federally financed rental properties, which was estimated to cover 28% of all rental units in the U.S.The CARES Act eviction moratorium expired on July 24. In the face of the eviction crisis, President Trump’s executive order calls on federal agencies to consider whether eviction moratoriums are necessary and to identify ways to help renters and homeowners who are struggling to meet their financial obligations. It does not extend eviction moratoriums, nor does it provide immediate financial assistance to help families pay their rent and utility bills. 
  1. Student Loans: President Trump’s memorandum instructs the Education Department to temporarily suspend payments and interest on student loans held by the Department of Education until December 31, 2020.

UAW Position

Amid a global pandemic and drastic economic downturn, working Americans are facing unprecedented pressures as they struggle to find work, pay their bills, and keep their families safe. This moment requires bold action to ensure that American workers can weather the economic crisis, access affordable healthcare, and return to work under safe conditions. What we need is a relief package to match the scale of the crisis. 

Yet as the crisis continues, the Republican-led Senate has refused to hold a vote on the House-passed HEROES Act and instead offered a counterproposal known as the HEALS Act, which does not meet the dire needs of working families. When negotiations to resolve the differences between the House and Senate COVID-19 relief bills stalled, President Trump issued four executive actions which significantly fall short on UI benefits and fail to protect families facing foreclosures or evictions. The executive order to temporarily suspend payroll taxes would hurt workers by reducing social security tax revenues by 35-45% per year. Modifying the payroll tax does not help unemployed workers and could weaken future retirement and health security for everyone.     

UAW continues to support the HEROES Act, a comprehensive relief package passed by the House in May that extends the $600 per week in additional unemployment aid through January 2021; extends moratorium on evictions and foreclosures for 12 months; provides rental and utility assistance to families struggling to make ends meet; includes COBRA subsidies that enable workers to keep their own health insurance if they have lost their job and/or have reduced work hours; includes an OSHA emergency temporary standard (ETS) to protect workers from exposure to COVID-19, state and local government funding, and measures to support vote by mail.


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