It’s time for the Capitol Hill legislators to reach an agreement on the additional $ 600 unemployment benefits that will officially expire on Friday. To keep Americans from falling off an income cliff, California state legislators are taking matters into their own hands.
Since the $ 2 trillion stimulus package, known as the CARES Act, was passed in March, more than 30 million unemployed Americans have collected an additional $ 600 a week in unemployment benefits on top of what they would receive from their state.
Legislators had until July 31, the date on which the supplementary benefit ends, to prevent unemployed Americans from receiving pre-pandemic levels of unemployment benefits, but failed to provide an alternative.
Republican lawmakers believe the extra $ 600 is comparable to paying Americans not to work, given that two-thirds of Americans have received more unemployment benefits than they would get from working. Instead, as part of the recently unveiled HEALS law, Republican senators proposed lowering the additional benefits to $ 200 a week for two months until government labor services introduce weekly unemployment benefits equal to 70% of an employee’s previous wages.
The Democrats of the House and Senate believe that the Republican unemployment benefit proposal wrongly punishes Americans who are unemployed because of the pandemic. “If you lose your job through no fault of your own, Republicans want you to get a 30% cut in wages,” said Senator minority leader Chuck Schumer, a Democrat from New York, Monday.
The $ 3 trillion stimulus package House Democrats passed in May, known as the HEROES Act, calls for the extra $ 600 to be extended until January 2021.
Democrats rejected a proposal to temporarily extend the increased $ 600 unemployment benefits for a week.
Temporary renewals are only appropriate if lawmakers are “about to enter into an agreement or if you have an agreement,” home speaker Nancy Pelosi told reporters on Friday.
In California, where more than 8.7 million Americans have filed for unemployment since March, lawmakers said they would be willing to dive into a federal trust fund to continue paying Californians the extra $ 600 a week. Otherwise, state unemployment controls go back to the weekly average of $ 340 per week.
“There are so many people who rely on that money to pay rent, to buy food. I think the state should do everything it can to help them pay their bills, “Assemblyman Phil Ting, a Democrat who led the initiative to raise state unemployment benefits, said Wednesday.
State Governor Gavin Newsom, a Democrat, indicated this week that he is reluctant to sign that plan, which was proposed by the 25 members of the Senate and the assembly, and hopes Congress will reach an agreement , the LA Times reported.
Newsom representatives did not immediately respond to MarketWatch’s request for comment.
Arizona Governor Doug Ducey, a Republican, said it would not be possible for his state to offer a higher amount of unemployment benefits if Congress does not approve its own measure. The maximum weekly benefit that one can receive is $ 240, which is the second lowest amount a state provides unemployment benefits.
In contrast, Massachusetts pays unemployed workers up to $ 1,234 a week, the highest benefit among all states.
“We don’t print money at the state level. We are not in a position today to borrow money, especially during a pandemic, “he said at a news conference held Thursday.
New York and Maryland, instead of increasing weekly checks on unemployed beneficiaries, have adopted measures to extend the number of weeks a person may receive unemployment benefits by 20 and 13 weeks, respectively.
Disagreements between Democrats and Republicans regarding liability protection, state funding, and the stimulus package price tag are likely to extend through the weekend, White House chief of staff Mark Meadows said Friday.
As discussions continue, Americans can explore how many unemployment benefits they may qualify under various plans proposed by legislators using this interactive tool produced by the United States Chamber of Commerce, a corporate lobby group.