Here’s the biggest news you missed this weekend

Trump signs executive orders for coronavirus relief

With stimulus talks at an impasse in Congress, President Donald Trump on Saturday signed a series of executive orders to provide temporary relief to Americans suffering from the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic. “We’ve had it,” he said. “We’re going to save American jobs and provide relief to the American worker.”

The four executive orders will …

  • provide an additional $400 per week in unemployment benefits,

  • suspend payments on some student loans through the end of the year,

  • protect renters from being evicted from their homes, and

  • instruct employers to defer certain payroll taxes through the end of the year for Americans who earn less than $100,000 annually. 

But questions remain as to whether Trump has the legal authority to take these actions — or the money to pay for them.

A scramble for unemployment aid

It’s unclear whether Trump has the authority to extend enhanced unemployment benefits by executive action while side-stepping Congress. Trump directed the use of funds from FEMA’s Disaster Relief Fund, which would be capped at $44 billion. Andrew Stettner, senior fellow at The Century Foundation, estimates that the additional aid will last just over a month — or about $10 billion per week.

A bill still in the works? 

Democratic congressional leaders and White House officials said Sunday they are willing to continue negotiations on a new coronavirus stimulus package. 

  • “We have to reach an agreement,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said on “Fox News Sunday,” adding that the orders failed to accomplish the administration’s own stated goals.

  • Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer said on ABC News’ “This Week” that Trump’s executive orders are “unworkable, weak, and far too narrow.”

  • And Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said on “Fox News Sunday” that he is willing to continue negotiations with Pelosi and Schumer.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Claif., and Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., speak to members of the press after a meeting with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows at the U.S. Capitol Aug. 7, 2020 in Washington.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Claif., and Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., speak to members of the press after a meeting with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows at the U.S. Capitol Aug. 7, 2020 in Washington.

A quarter of the world’s cases

The United States surpassed 5 million confirmed coronavirus cases Sunday — about one-quarter of all cases reported worldwide. The staggering milestone comes just 17 days after reaching 4 million cases and as the U.S. reports more than 162,000 deaths. Brazil is now the second country with 3 million cases and also the second country to report 100,000 deaths, Johns Hopkins reports. All this as the world nears 20 million cases, a number experts widely believe is underreported due to insufficient testing. 

Back-to-school woes

As students head back to classes this fall – online, in-person or a hybrid of the two – millions of families are walking a tightrope, trying to balance safety with continued academic growth. We’re here to keep you updated on all the latest news and scientific developments. But first:

Real quick

Beirut blast fuels clashes between protesters and police

Protesters in Beirut stormed government institutions and clashed for hours with security forces Friday night after a massive explosion devastated much of the city Tuesday and killed nearly 160 people. Activists who called for Friday’s protest set up symbolic nooses at Beirut’s Martyrs’ Square to hang politicians whose corruption and negligence they blame for the explosion. In a televised speech Saturday evening, Prime Minister Hassan Diab said the only solution was to hold early elections, which he planned to propose in a draft bill. He called on all political parties to put aside their disagreements and said he was prepared to stay in the post for two months to allow time for politicians to work on structural reforms. The offer is unlikely to quell the growing unrest. 

People clash with police during a protest against the political elites and the government after this week's deadly explosion at Beirut port which devastated large parts of the capital in Beirut, Lebanon, on Aug. 8, 2020.
People clash with police during a protest against the political elites and the government after this week’s deadly explosion at Beirut port which devastated large parts of the capital in Beirut, Lebanon, on Aug. 8, 2020.

Joe Biden, it’s decision time

Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden is expected to announce his running mate this week. Top contenders include Sen. Kamala Harris and Susan Rice, former national security advisor to President Barack Obama — both would make history as the first black woman to be a running mate. Biden is also considering Rep. Karen Bass, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, Rep. Val Demings, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and Sen. Tammy Duckworth. Biden, 77, will be the oldest president ever elected if he wins in November. Voters and pundits will likely look more carefully at who will be able to succeed Biden as the former vice president’s age has also been a main target for Trump.

North Carolina, Virginia rocked by  earthquake — most powerful in region since 1916

A magnitude 5.1 earthquake along North Carolina’s border with Virginia on Sunday shook homes and rattled dishes as far away as Atlanta. No serious damage or injuries were immediately reported. The U.S. Geological Survey said the quake was the strongest to rock the region since a magnitude 5.2 quake in 1916. Sunday’s temblor, which struck at 8:07 a.m., was centered just southeast of Sparta, North Carolina — about 100 miles north of Charlotte. Bill Griesmyer, an engineer in Charlotte, said the quake was strong enough to drive people out of their homes. “Not a big one but shook the house and brought the neighbors out in their yards to see what happened,” he said.

P.S. Like this round up of stories? We send it to inboxes every afternoon. Sign up for “The Short List” newsletter here. 

This is a compilation of stories from across the USA TODAY Network. Contributing: Associated Press.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Coronavirus relief, Trump, Congress, 5 million cases, Beirut: The weekend’s biggest news

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