Here’s where it stands with the additional $ 600 a week in unemployment benefits that expired on Friday
Anyone who has taken a basic chemistry course knows that when you combine oil with water, the two substances will not mix. No matter how hard you shake or stir the combination, you will still see oil droplets surrounded by water.
For the past two weeks, Republican and Democratic legislators have acted like oil and water on stimulus talks.
The two sides did not compromise on several issues, including the additional $ 600 a week in unemployment benefits unemployed Americans received under the $ 2 trillion CARES Act, ending completely on Friday.
As a result, 30 million unemployed Americans received $ 600 less in benefits last weekend. Some received checks under $ 235, the maximum benefit paid to beneficiaries in Mississippi, the state that pays the lowest amount of weekly unemployment benefits.
House Democrats, led by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, are demanding that the additional $ 600 a week paid by the federal government remain in effect until January 2021, an important part of the stimulus package they passed in May, known as the HEROES Act.
Senate Republicans and members of the Trump administration say the extra $ 600 is comparable to paying Americans not to work, given that two-thirds of Americans have received more money from unemployment benefits than from their previous job.
Instead, as part of the recently unveiled HEALS law, Republican senators proposed lowering the supplementary benefits to $ 200 per week for two months until government employment services can introduce a weekly unemployment benefit equal to 70% of the previous wages of an employee.
Pelosi said $ 200 a week “does not meet the needs of working American families.” She added in an ABC interview on Sunday that it is a “condescension” to claim that Americans don’t need it because they stay at home while they might otherwise be working.
Republicans tried to pass a week-long extension of the $ 600 payout as the two sides continue to negotiate an overarching stimulus package, but they couldn’t get enough votes in the Senate to pass it on to the House.
Even if the proposed extension did reach the House, it is highly unlikely that it would have been adopted given Pelosi’s opposition to short-term extensions, which she believes are only appropriate when legislators are “about to enter into an agreement or you have agreement.”
However, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer indicated last week that Democrats are willing to compromise on the $ 600 payout.
“It’s not $ 600 or a failure,” he said in a CNN interview. He also said that the Republicans’ argument that the extra $ 600 discourages people from working “has some validity, and we must deal with it.”
“It’s not a $ 600 or bust”
For Pelosi, it’s $ 600 or bust, at least for now, she said in a CNN interview Monday. The $ 600 is more related to the unemployment rate. If unemployment falls, that number may drop. ‘
Senate Secretary of State Chuck Schumer and Senator Ron Wyden, an Oregon Democrat, have filed a bill that would keep federal unemployment benefits at $ 600 “until the average three-month total unemployment level falls below 11%.”
At that point, benefits would drop by $ 100 for every 1% drop in a state’s unemployment rate.
Senator Mitt Romney, a Republican from Utah, has made a similar proposal, supported by two other Republican senators, Susan Collins from Maine and Martha McSally from Arizona.
Their proposal calls for federal unemployment benefits to be extended by three months. States can decide whether to pay benefits equal to 80% of workers’ previous wages, or whether to begin phasing out benefits from $ 500 in August and $ 100 each month through October.
Pelosi said Romney’s proposal is “something to talk about” at a later date.
Mitch McConnell, majority of the Senate, has not indicated whether he will plan a Senate vote on any of these proposals.
Trump administration members said the president is investigating options to bypass Congress to address some of the economic problems Americans face if the House and Senate fail to get a second stimulus package, the Washington Post . reported Monday.