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Questions surround President's executive order promising Federal unemployment benefits

Posted at 6:57 PM, Aug 10, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-10 18:57:52-04

Unemployed Floridians have been hurting for a while now especially after the $600 federal checks stopped showing up in bank accounts.

“What President Trump is proposing will be a nightmare for Floridians,” said Congresswoman Kathy Castor, representing Florida’s 14th district.

An executive order signed by President Donald Trump over the weekend would pull $44 billion from FEMA and hand out money every week to jobless Americans.

“They are predicting a more active hurricane season so it doesn’t make any sense whatsoever to raid the hurricane disaster trust fund to pay for unemployment benefits,” said Rep. Castor.

According to Rep. Castor, the Disaster Relief Fund (DRF) is currently at approximately $69 Billion.

According to NOAA's Climate Prediction Center, an "extremely active" 2020 Atlantic hurricane season is expected.

She says in President Trump’s memorandum, they state that at least $25 billion of total DRF balances will be set aside to support ongoing disaster response and recovery efforts and potential 2020 major disaster costs, which is only about one-third of the total.

Based on the current unemployment rate, Ryan Barack -- a labor and employment expert -- says that money wouldn’t last long.

On top of that, it would be each state's responsibility to pay a quarter of the $400. Barack isn’t sure where that money would come from and said it’s a task he’s not confident Florida can handle.

“Other states whose systems are functioning better are going to be in a better position to access those funds,” said Barack. “There’s no requirement for it to be allocated on any specific basis, so once that money is gone, it’s gone.”

And there’s the question of whether President Trump overstepped his authority in bypassing congress.

“If you think back to elementary level civics, the power of the purse is one of the things that Congress has,” Barack said.

He says it’s a partisan issue everyone should be concerned with.

“The president has defined powers and when he exceeds those powers, that should concern anyone because we want to make sure our government functions and functions the way it’s designed to,” said Barack.

She says the U.S. House and Senate need to come to an agreement so there is no need for an executive order. She says the House passed the Heroes Act months ago and has been willing to negotiate on some things with the Republican-controlled Senate.

“They never should’ve waited this long but OK, here’s where we are. Let’s not create another nightmare scenario for families who need help,” said Castor.

ABC Action News reached out to Governor Ron DeSantis' office for comment on the executive order and how it would be executed here in the state -- we're waiting to hear back.