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Congress Split Over Unemployment Insurance

Image by Shealah Craighead

The CARES Act, a 2.2 trillion economic relief bill, is already running out.  While the economy was shutdown in response to the Coronavirus, the government ramped up their spending.  The bill included unemployment insurance that gave many Americans, besides a one-time stimulus check, $600 per week.  This unemployment insurance expires this weekend, leaving many Americans wondering how they will get by as states continue to stay closed. 

Democrats and Republicans are split over this issue.  Democrats in the House already passed a $3 trillion relief bill, which was dead on arrival in the Senate.  In their version of the bill, they continue to provide a very high amount for unemployment.  The Republicans, however, are mostly against continuing this, and want to lower the number to $200 per week.  Lawmakers are arguing that if you continue to give Americans checks, there will be no incentive for them to get back to work, or for businesses to reopen.  The problem, however, is that in many places, the government won’t allow these businesses to reopen.  The CARES Act was passed with the idea that the epidemic would be over by now, and Congress is split over how to best move forward.  

Schumer and Pelosi put out a joint statement today, writing, “This weekend, millions of Americans will lose their Unemployment Insurance, will be at risk of being evicted from their homes, and could be laid off by state and local government, and there is only one reason: Republicans have been dithering for months while America’s crisis deepens.”

Because of the virus, 32 million Americans are without a job, and 1.4 million have applied for this unemployment insurance.  White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows spoke to reporters, and said if Congress can’t come to an agreement for unemployment benefits for the next trillion dollar spending bill, they should break it off into another piece of legislation.  But this idea was shot down, as lawmakers want a single package to pass before August recess.  

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