U.S Unemployment Benefit Increase Due to Coronavirus Relief Bill Expires Today

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U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi said talks with the White House on a new coronavirus aid bill were not yet on track to reach a deal on Friday, a few hours before the expiration of a federal unemployment benefit that has been a vital lifeline for millions of Americans.When asked why she rejected a proposal by Republican President Donald Trump’s administration for a week-long extension of the United States’ Improved Unemployed Weekly Payment, Pelosi told reporters that such a move comes into play. would produce “if you’re on the way” to a deal.

“We are not,” Pelosi said at a press conference.

However, negotiations were due to continue Friday between White House officials and Congressional Democrats. Pelosi, the nation’s top elected Democrat, said she believed Congress and the White House would eventually come together on the legislation, although she gave no timeline.

Referring to the increasing deaths from COVID-19 and the rapidly increasing cases, Pelosi said, “It’s a freight train picking up speed.”

In some of her harshest critiques so far, she said Republican delays on legislation and “distortions” about the pandemic have “caused needless death.”

Lawmakers and the White House disagree over efforts to further strengthen the economy and deal with the novel coronavirus pandemic, which has left tens of millions of Americans unemployed and killed at least 152,384 people in the United States .

The CARES Act of March included a provision for an additional US $ 600 in unemployment benefits for eligible people, with an expiration date of July 31.

A person looks inside the closed doors of the Pasadena Community Employment Center in Pasadena, California in May during the coronavirus outbreak. More than a million Americans a week have applied for unemployment since March, but an extension of benefits has yet to materialize as the deadline approaches. (Damian Dovarganes / The Associated Press)

The White House on Friday sought to blame Congressional Democrats for not renewing the benefits, saying they rejected four offers put forward by the Trump administration without retaliating.

“What we are seeing is the usual Democrat politics on Capitol Hill,” White House chief of staff Mark Meadows told reporters. “Democrats believe they have all the cards on their side and they are prepared to play those cards at the expense of those who are suffering. “

Soaring number of unemployed

In a Thursday night meeting between senior White House officials and Democratic congressional leaders, negotiations focused on an extension of improved federal unemployment benefits, which Americans who have lost their jobs due to the health crisis received in addition to unemployment payments from the States.

More than one million Americans a week have been filing unemployment claims since March.

On Thursday, Senate Republicans tried unsuccessfully to pass a bill reducing unemployment benefits to $ 200 per week.

According to a person familiar with the closed-door negotiations, the White House has proposed reducing the weekly payment from $ 600 to $ 400 for the next four months. Although this is a step towards demands from Pelosi and Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer, the source said they dismissed it as insufficient.

For weeks, Senate Republican Mitch McConnell has said any deal must include a shield for businesses and schools from liability lawsuits when they reopen.

Democrats want a sweeping economic stimulus bill that would include about $ 1 trillion in aid to states and local governments that experience plummeting incomes during the economic recession.

In mid-May, the Democratic-controlled House passed a $ 3 trillion bill that the Republican Senate ignored.

Several Democrats have taken to social media to urge Republicans to act, as well as to criticize McConnell, who on Thursday night sent the bedroom home for the weekend without reaching a deal to extend the extra money.

“Senate Republicans are letting the $ 600 in federal unemployment insurance benefits expire today,” New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand tweeted. “It’s the one thing that is keeping many American workers afloat during this crisis. We need to rectify that and adopt an extension now.

Virginia Congressman Don Beyer posted tweets from voters who contacted him to let him know the importance of the relief.

“Without this money, I cannot cover the mortgage and keep the food on the table,” said a woman from Virgnia.

Unless lawmakers also step in, a federal moratorium on evictions that has protected millions of tenants, even though some Americans remain protected by similar state and local actions, is also set to end.

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