WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump publicly attacked fellow Republican Ben Sasse on Monday after the Nebraska senator slammed his new executive orders as "unconstitutional slop."
Sasse and other critics have argued that Trump's orders, aimed at propping up a COVID-damaged economy, are legally suspect and fiscally unsound. Trump responded by labeling Sasse a RINO – Republican in name only.
"RINO Ben Sasse, who needed my support and endorsement in order to get the Republican nomination for Senate from the GREAT State of Nebraska, has, now that he’s got it (Thank you President T), gone rogue, again," Trump wrote in a tweet.
Sasse did not let Trump's retort go unanswered, telling the president he was acting like his predecessor, President Barack Obama.
"Mr. President- I understand that you’re mad," Sasse wrote on Monday afternoon. But no president "has unilateral power to re-write immigration law or to cut taxes or to raise taxes. This is because America doesn't have kings."
I understand that you’re mad. A few thoughts....
⁰⁰(1) As we’ve discussed before, I don’t think Twitter is the best place to do this. But, since you moved our conversation from private to public, here we are.
— Team Sasse (@TeamSasse) August 10, 2020
Trump executive orders, issued Saturday, are aimed at boosting unemployment insurance, preventing evictions, suspending student loan payments, and encouraging employers to defer certain payroll taxes through the end of the year.
Sasse compared Trump's new executive orders to Obama's directives blocking the deportation of so-called "Dreamers," immigrants who entered the United States illegally as children.
“The pen-and-phone theory of executive lawmaking is unconstitutional slop," Sasse said shortly after Trump signed the orders on Saturday.
Sasse, a member of both the Senate Judiciary and Finance committees, said Obama "did not have the power to unilaterally rewrite immigration law" and Trump "does not have the power to unilaterally rewrite the payroll tax law."
RINO Ben Sasse, who needed my support and endorsement in order to get the Republican nomination for Senate from the GREAT State of Nebraska, has, now that he’s got it (Thank you President T), gone rogue, again. This foolishness plays right into the hands of the Radical Left Dems!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 10, 2020
Trump issued the orders as negotiations stalled in Congress over a new stimulus bill to address the economic problems caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Trump and his aides have said they still hope they can reach a legislative deal.
This is not the first time Sasse has criticized Trump. He's chided the president over his divisive rhetoric. And during the 2016 campaign, the senator even likened Trump to former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke and said he would write in the name of running mate Mike Pence on his own ballot.
Sasse did soften his criticism of Trump earlier this year as he faced a Republican challenger in Nebraska's primary. Trump endorsed Sasse, and he defeated GOP challenger Matt Innis in the May primary.
Sasse has since resumed some of his criticism. After Trump staged a June 1 photo op at a church while holding a Bible, Sasse accused the president of using "the Word of God as a political prop."
Sasse and other lawmakers, mostly Democrats, questioned the legality and wisdom of the Trump executive action on COVID relief.
One question is whether there is enough money available to cover Trump's plans, analysts said, and another is whether states and private employers are in a position to help fulfill the plan as requested.
Trump's orders would replace the recently expired $600-a-week unemployment insurance with a $400-a-week benefit, but it also calls on cash-strapped states to finance 25% of the these costs.
Also, employers are under no obligation to stop withholding the payroll tax as called for in the executive orders – and lawmakers in both parties pointed out that those taxes finance Social Security and Medicare, programs they said would be weakened under Trump's directive.
The orders also do not extend a moratorium on evictions; they only ask government agencies to look for ways to avoid to dislodging renters who have fallen behind on their payments. And there are also questions as to whether any president has legal authority to do any of this, said Sasse and others.
"Under the Constitution, that power belongs to the American people acting through their members of Congress," Sasse said.
Trump has brushed aside these criticisms.
"This foolishness plays right into the hands of the Radical Left Dems!" Trump tweeted.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: 'Unconstitutional slop:' Donald Trump denounces GOP senator Ben Sasse