Washington, D.C. – A Republican proposal to slash the $600 weekly benefit boost for those left jobless because of the coronavirus shutdown could result in weeks or even months of delayed payments in some states. The extra CARES Act unemployment benefit will end after today.
How to handle unemployment is a fiercely contested part of the debate as Congress negotiates the latest relief legislation.
Democrats want to continue the federally funded $600-a-week unemployment bonus that is about to expire, saying it’s a way to keep families and the economy afloat in a time when there are far more people out of work than jobs available.
Republicans argue the current amount is so high that it encourages people to remain on unemployment, as many of those previous jobs are now gone. They want to reduce it in two steps: First, by cutting the benefit by two-thirds. Then they want to switch that flat rate to a percentage in which the unemployed would receive benefits equal to no more than 70% of their previous incomes in November and December.
Senate Republicans on Monday proposed a stimulus package called the HEALS Act, more than two months after the Democratic-led House of Representatives passed coronavirus relief legislation to extend federal unemployment aid. The proposal would reduce the $600 extra unemployment benefit to $200 until October 5, according to the bill. From that point, the assistance amount would combine with the states’ unemployment offerings to equal 70% of an individual’s previous wages until December 31.
Congressional Democrats have continued to push for simply extending the unemployment benefits. The Heroes Act was passed by the House of Representatives back in mid-May. Unfortunately, it was not taken up by the Senate. The plan would extend federal pandemic unemployment compensation to Jan. 31, 2021. It’s the added fluff that seems to be the problem for both sides of the aisle.
Last week, more than 16 million Americans were unemployed. Texas reported 86,521 unemployed in July, which resulted in an 8.6% unemployment rate.
More than likely, nothing is going to get resolved anytime soon by this congress. Urgency is a luxury when you don’t have to worry about living paycheck-to-paycheck. But, they will be held accountable when their names eventually show up on the election ballots.