Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) indicated Tuesday that the GOP will not include an extension of the $600 expanded unemployment checks —but will feature another round of stimulus checks — in their plan for a fifth stimulus bill that’s set to be released in the coming days, setting the party on a collision course with Democrats who are in strong favor of extending the benefits with millions out of work.
McConnell told reporters the GOP will unveil their proposal for a fifth coronavirus stimulus package “in the next few days,” CNN first reported, but the bill will not include expanded unemployment checks.
The Leader added that the GOP plan will offer an alternative to the boosted benefits, which are set to run out at the end of this month, but did not elaborate further.
There’s a “growing consensus” that Republicans will propose cutting expanded unemployment benefits from $600 per week to around $200-300 per week, reports Jeff Stein of the Washington Post.
Republicans are in opposition towards extending the benefits because they believe it disincentivizes work, as some Americans made more on the benefits than they did working during their previous jobs.
Democrats are pushing hard for an extension of the benefits and say any reduction must be coupled with other relief.
Around 25 million out-of-work Americans will stop receiving the $600 checks by the end of the week.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), along with Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) have introduced a bill to tie enhanced unemployment benefits to unemployment levels in each state. Schumer has been adamant about extending the program and said last week that “millions of unemployed Americans are at risk because of Senate GOP inaction.”
As part of the CARES act passed in March, Congress included a $600 across-the-board increase in unemployment benefits through the end of July. In May, the Democratic-controlled House passed a $3 trillion stimulus bill that extended the boosted benefits through the end of January. But the bill faced a quick death in the Senate.
$970. The average amount of money per week an American received in unemployment benefits under the CARES Act (the national average unemployment payment was $371.88 in 2019 but varies widely by state.)
68% of unemployed workers eligible for unemployment benefits received more money in jobless payments than they did working their previous jobs, according to a University of Chicago study.
What to watch for
Whether Democrats will support a bill that doesn’t extend the program. So far, Democrats have not made the unemployment benefits a red-line issue.
Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin has hinted he would like to come to some sort of agreement before the unemployment program expires, breaking from other White House officials. “Our objective is to try to get something done before the enhanced unemployment insurance expires,” Mnuchin told reporters Tuesday. “There’s a lot of people who are still out of work.” Other administration officials, at the behest of President Trump, have pushed for a payroll tax holiday instead.