Republicans Want to Cut Unemployment by $400 and Then Some

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Ky. rides the subway to a meeting, July 21 on Capitol Hill. Congress is just starting to negotiate new legislation to renew coronavirus aid. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

By Elle Meyers

July 27, 2020

The plan, expected Monday afternoon, would eventually cut benefits to 70% of workers’ former wages

Republicans continued dithering Monday about how they’ll extend unemployment benefits that are set to run out for millions of Americans this week. Their latest plan is to reportedly drop the $600 per week supplement down to $200 per week, until states can set up systems where they pay 70% of an individual’s former wages, according to the Washington Post.

Democrats passed a bill in May to extend those benefits at $600 per week. But Republicans waited until the last minute, possibly using the looming expiration deadline as a way to force Democrats to give in to lower benefits. 

The latest version of the Senate Republicans bill is expected today at 4:30 p.m. That could always change, as it did last week when Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell originally planned to introduce a bill, but had to pull it because of disarray within his party. 

The unemployment benefit is scheduled to officially expire on July 31, but according to The Wall Street Journal, it will essentially run out sooner, due to the way states process the benefits.

Bloomberg reports the $200 a week plan has approval from the Trump administration, and states would have two months to transition to paying 70% of wages. States would also be allowed to apply for an additional two months of transition time if they cannot calculate how much aid to give residents to make up 70% of each person’s lost wages. 

Democrats, on the other hand, want to see the $600 benefit extended through January.

“The reason we had $600 was because of its simplicity,” Speaker Pelosi said on CBS’ Face the Nation.

The Republican bill is estimated to cost about $1 trillion and would include another round of $1,200 direct payments to Americans, $100 billion in aid to schools and universities and additional funding for coronavirus testing, according to the Wall Street Journal. State and local governments would not get any additional aid, according to the Republican plan. 

Also included in the Republican plan is an extension of a federal ban on evictions from properties with federally backed mortgages. The moratorium expired on July 24. 

Senate Democrats have a similar plan but would allocate $1 trillion in funding for state and local governments to fill budget gaps and another $175 billion in housing assistance. 

“I call upon the Republican leadership of the House and Senate and representatives of the President to come to the Speaker’s Office and join Leader Schumer and me within a half an hour of releasing their plan today to negotiate and get the job done,” said Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi in a statement

But on Friday, McConnell said he expects negotiations between the two parties to last at least a few weeks. This could leave many Americans without critical aid from the federal government as the country continues to grapple with the coronavirus pandemic. 


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