The $600 jobless benefit is coming to an end this week, but the political establishment is far from a consensus on a new package as the coronavirus pandemic has surged in response to loosened restrictions across the country.
Even though the economy is still far from recovered from the coronavirus pandemic and new layoffs are being announced regularly, the coronavirus relief program will expire this coming week because payments are only provided for weeks ending on either Saturday or Sunday.
Jobless Americans will still get state unemployment benefits, but the sunset of the Congress’ $600 enhancement — part of the $6 trillion corporate bailout package passed in March — will leave more than 25 million people thousands of dollars poorer each month.
Congress is returning to work just as the coronavirus crisis worsened and earlier federal relief is expiring.
“These emergency unemployment benefits have been propping up families and propping up the economy now for several months, said Kali Grant, senior policy analyst at the Georgetown Center on Poverty & Inequality. “Ending the benefits prematurely will really set back any economic recovery that may have been on the way.”
In Washington D.C., officials are discussing a new package of legislation but parties are far apart on specifics, even as progress appears likely on a military budget deal.
“Republicans and Democrats want to pass a record-breaking $740 billion military budget, even before taking care of the millions and millions of Americans who are suffering right now,” said Senator Bernie Sanders, who wants to divert ten percent of the Pentagon’s money to pay for public services.
“How can it be that we have enough to spend more on defense than the next eleven countries combined, but we don’t have enough to make sure every American child has a roof over their head and enough food to eat?,” said Sanders. “As a nation, our priorities have become horribly distorted. Congress listens to the lobbyists from the powerful defense industry and ignores the pain of so many who are suffering during this historic time.”
Top Republicans in Congress were expecting to meet Monday with President Donald Trump on the next COVID-19 aid package as the administration panned more virus testing money and interjected other priorities that could complicate quick passage.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell was prepared to roll out the $1 trillion package but divisions between the Senate GOP majority and the White House posed fresh challenges.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there have been nearly 3.5 million cases of COVID-19 diagnosed in the United States, and nearly 137,000 deaths.
The federal government has botched its reaction to the disease and cost tens of thousands of Americans their lives, only to make the economic catastrophe worse.
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