Florida doesn't want to be 'left on the hook' if President Trump's executive order on unemployment is illegal

Posted at 6:42 PM, Aug 17, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-19 08:09:22-04

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- Time isn't slowing down as the state continues to weigh its options on getting more money into the bank accounts of unemployed Floridians.

“Every day we wait, another Floridian gets closer to eviction. Closer to homelessness and people's lives are really on the line,” said Rep. Anna Eskamani.

An executive order signed by President Donald Trump aims to give unemployed Americans $400 a week but states would need to provide a quarter of that money.

Many wonder if President Trump's decision to pull $44 billion in federal money from FEMA is even legal, as the power of the purse constitutionally falls under Congress.

“There’s only so much you can do through executive action,” said Governor Ron DeSantis. “We’re now at a point where the President is just doing that but I want to make sure there’s no legal risk for us if someone were to challenge this then we’d be left on the hook.”

Still, it hasn’t stopped Iowa, New Mexico, Arizona and Louisiana from applying, according to President Trump on Twitter. South Dakota, however, declined.

“I think there’s a lot of red flags on the President's executive order despite the fact that we all desperately need to see this increase in dollars,” said Rep. Eskamani.

Gov. DeSantis told reporters during a press conference that they are considering taking out a loan through the Department of Labor to raise the weekly benefit amount for Floridians. It’s a compromise Rep. Eskamani says state lawmakers are interested in making, but also wishes Congress would strike a deal first.

“The best-case scenario would be Congress reconvening to come up with a solution and make that compromise, even if it means putting other issues on the table to figure out the unemployment piece,” she said. “This should be a moment of no partisanship. This should be a moment of just figuring out what is the best way to help Florida.”

It’s unclear how quickly the application process through FEMA works and when states will begin receiving the extra $300 in federal money.

The Department of Labor issued guidelines for states on how to apply.