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Pelosi criticizes Trump's government actions to battle coronavirus: "Absurdly unconstitutional"

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Chairwoman Chuck Schumer will speak to reporters at the U.S. Capitol in Washington on July 29, 2020.

Erin Scott | Reuters

Top Democrats on Sunday criticized President Donald Trump's executive measures to combat the coronavirus as "absurdly unconstitutional" and "far from the grassroots".

The measures Trump signed on Saturday and on the sidelines of Congress after lawmakers failed to reach an agreement on Friday include additional unemployment benefits of $ 400 per week, including a temporary wage tax cut.

Trump said the federal government will fund most services with disaster funds from the Federal Emergency Management Agency. He also called on states, many of which are already suffering from budget constraints due to the pandemic, to cover a quarter of the costs.

House spokeswoman Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., Berated the move in interviews with Fox News Sunday and CNN's State Of The Union.

Pelosi called the president's actions "unconstitutional," referring to a statement Senator Ben Sasse, R-Neb, made the day before.

"While he says he will pay the wage tax, he is undermining Social Security and Medicare, so these are illusions," she said on Fox News Sunday. Social security and Medicare are financed through wage taxes, which Trump also vowed on Saturday to cut permanently upon re-election.

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In an interview on CNN, Pelosi called the measures "absurdly unconstitutional," but she would not say whether Democrats were facing a legal challenge as they had previously indicated.

"Something is wrong," she said. "Either the president doesn't know what he's talking about … or something is wrong here to meet the needs of the American people."

In an interview about "This Week" on ABC, Chuck Schumer, chairman of the Senate Minority, D-N.Y, declined. Ab discussed whether he thought Trump's move was illegal, saying instead that "it doesn't do the job".

"The executive orders of the president, described in one word, could in three words be poor, unworkable, weak and far too tight," said Schumer, adding that they "are a big show, but do nothing".

Schumer also said the wage tax cut was "far from the grassroots".

"Employers will just keep holding back the money – I've spoken to some – because they don't want their employees to be stuck with a huge bill in December," said Schumer. "So it won't pump money into the economy."

In an interview with MNSBC on Sunday 2016, Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton called Trump's actions "a stunt" that would harm "any American".

"It's a stunt, there's no doubt about it," she said. "It is most likely … unconstitutional to bypass Congress to spend money it cannot run."

Clinton also criticized the impact of a wage tax cut on Social Security and Medicare, which are heavily funded by these taxes.

"It will hurt not just older Americans, it will hurt every American," she said.

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