Coronavirus

Unemployment benefits: will there be an extra weekly payment?

The Senate has until the end of today, Friday 7 August, to reach an agreement on the fourth and final stimulus relief package that among other measures could extend unemployment benefits.

Unemployment benefits: will there be an extra weekly payment?
DPA vía Europa Press DPA vía Europa Press

Democrats and Republicans have been working for weeks on the details of a new coronavirus stimulus proposal before they go on recess (7 August). There are three proposals on the table but the three negotiating parties (the Democrats, the Republicans and the White House) so far have been unable to reach an agreement on how exactly which stimulus measures should be included and how generous they should be as the the coronavirus pandemic continues to batter the US economy. Any new bill should, among other things, extend the additional unemployment benefits that expired on 31 July.

When President Donald Trump signed the CARES Act back in March, it provided for millions of Americans who qualified for unemployment benefit amid the pandemic offering them an extra $600 a week. Republicans have complained vociferously that they considered some people might be taking home more money with these unemployment benefits than they were in their regular job prior to the pandemic, meaning people would prefer to stay on benefits, although given the state of the American economy there are in fact few jobs available for unemployed people to take. As of 31 July this benefit has been cut off and affected individuals have been eagerly waiting on an extension.

Republicans on unemployed benefit

The GOP have stated that they did not want to extend this unemployment benefit after 31 July because they want to send Americans back to work. The Republican-controlled Senate wanted to give people bonuses if they returned to work or find a new job.

As the deadline approaches, President Donald Trump, with one eye firmly on the presidential election in November, indicated he is frustrated at the situation and stated that he will use the power of the executive order to extend the unemployment benefits if Congress fails to reach an agreement today. If no agreement is reached and Trump uses the power of the executive order unemployment benefits could return as early as today or Saturday.