Trump's $400 unemployment extension 'illegal,' says Bay Area congresswoman

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- A Bay Area lawmaker is speaking out against President Donald Trump's executive order to add an additional $400 a week in unemployment benefits.

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"What the president has done is illegal," said Rep. Jackie Speier, a Democrat who represents the Peninsula in Congress, in an interview with ABC7 News.

President Donald Trump announced an executive order Saturday that extends additional unemployment payments of up to $400 a week to help cushion the economic fallout of the pandemic. Whether Trump has the constitutional authority to extend federal unemployment benefits by executive order remains unclear and legal challenges are expected.

"It was a bit of a show, frankly, and what we need to do is get the negotiations completed, the food back on the table and the roofs over people's houses," she said.

Even if it were legal, Rep. Speier says the plan is also short-sighted.

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"It could be helpful for five weeks, but this is not a five-week problem," she said.

Instead Speier thinks the Trump administration should work with Democrat leaders to pass $2 trillion in local funding for cities and states, which would help them fund unemployment benefits, education and other services.

Gov. Gavin Newsom made it clear California is strapped for cash in a press conference Monday. Under Trump's plan, the $400 a week requires a state to commit to providing $100.

Coming up with 25% of the funding would require significant cuts elsewhere, Newsom said, as funding from the prior CARES Act has all but run out.

MORE: Gov. Newsom says 'no money in the piggy bank' to fund Trump's $400 weekly unemployment order

"There is no money sitting in the piggy bank of the previous CARES Act to be reprioritized or reconstituted for this purpose," the governor said. "Simply, it does not exist."

Rep. Speier is also a founder of the Professional BusinessWomen of California Conference, which starts Tuesday. For more information, click here.

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  • The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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