CORONAVIRUS

$600 unemployment benefits boost: when does it end, will it be extended?

As a result of the coronavirus crisis, people receiving unemployment benefits in the United States have been getting an extra $600 a week.

Coronavirus: $600 unemployment benefits boost - when does it end?
ALEX EDELMAN AFP

Under the CARES Act, a $2.2-trillion relief bill passed in March to help tackle the financial effects of the coronavirus pandemic in the United States, people claiming jobless benefits have been receiving an extra $600 a week.

The additional cash injection, known as the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC) scheme, has been a welcome boost for many Americans: with nearly 39 million people applying for benefits since March, unemployment in the States is currently at levels not seen since the Great Depression of the 1930s.

However, the FPUC only lasts until 31 July, and some states are even set to end it a week earlier, on 25 July.

HEROES Act looks to extend $600 unemployment boost

Passed by the House of Representatives earlier in May, the HEROES Act proposes a further $3 trillion in coronavirus relief spending - and its measures would include extending the FPUC by six months, until 31 January 2021.

But the Democrat-backed bill, whose proposals also feature a second $1,200 stimulus check for eligible people in America, is facing opposition from Republicans in the GOP Senate, with Majority Leader Mitch McConnell describing the package as a "partisan wish list with no chance of becoming law”.

What’s more, the White House has signaled its intention to veto the proposed legislation.

FPUC "will not be in next bill"

Although the HEROES Act faces an uphill battle to be signed into law, a fresh stimulus package of some sort is expected to happen at some juncture. "Everybody believes there will be future things we have to do to get the economy back," says Senator Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), for example.

However, Senate Republicans do not want an FPUC extension to be a part of it, with CNBC noting that there is concern that additional benefits could deter unemployed Americans from looking for work as, in some cases, claimants can receive more money than they would normally earn in their jobs.

Extra payments "will not be in the next bill," McConnell is reported by Politico to have told fellow Republicans last Wednesday.

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