$ 600 weekly unemployment benefit will likely expire before more help is voted

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Congress will likely allow increase of $ 600 a week in unemployment benefits to expire later this month if lawmakers follow schedule proposed by Senate Majority Officer Mitch McConnell for next round of help pandemic.When the Senate returns to Washington from recess next Monday, McConnell said he would begin to “socialize” the next GOP bailout and begin the legislative process with the Democrats. He said at an event in Corbin, Kentucky on Monday that he expects a bill to be introduced “within the next three weeks, starting next week.”

The additional weekly unemployment benefit of $ 600 created under the CARES law of March should expire in the weeks “ending on or before July 31”. But since most unemployment benefits end on Saturday, economists say the last payment will actually arrive the week ending July 25.

Although the GOP recently signaled that unemployment assistance could be part of the next bailout, unless another bill is signed by the president before the expiration of the aid, the laid-off workers will see the extra benefits disappear – thus reducing their weekly income by more than two-thirds in many states.

“Because state unemployment benefits must be extended by July 25 in order to be processed by states administering their programs, McConnell’s announcement that the Senate will not even begin to draft or negotiate legislation before next week will effectively render these expanded payments unusable, “Representative Don Beyer (D-Va.), vice chairman of the Joint Economic Committee of Congress, told POLITICO in a statement.

Beyer said the Democrats’ HEROES law, which was passed in the House in May, would extend these benefits until the end of January.

“Now we’re out of time,” said Beyer. “All of this could have been avoided if McConnell had recognized the economic emergency facing our country and reacted earlier. ”

Republicans and the Trump administration have opposed extending the benefit to $ 600 a week, but recently said unemployment insurance may be on the table in the next aid package.

At another event at Rockcastle Regional Hospital on Monday in Mount Vernon, Kentucky, McConnell said the next package would have a “continuing focus on jobs, which means unemployment insurance for those who can’t not go back to work. ”

He said he had discussed the upcoming legislation with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, who said last week that the GOP “would find an extension” to the improved benefits that work “for businesses and for people who will always be Unemployed “.

White House spokesperson Judd Deere told POLITICO that “maintaining unemployment insurance benefits at current levels does not encourage people to return to work,” but added that “the reform of the unemployment insurance is a priority for this White House in any phase four program and we are in ongoing talks with the Hill. . ”

Once the unemployment benefit is over, unemployed Americans could see their benefits cut by 50 to 85 percent, according to Andrew Stettner, a fellow with the Century Foundation.

The size of an unemployment check depends on the recipient’s income and rules that vary from state to state, but the average weekly payment in the past year was $ 342, according to the Department of Labor.

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