Republicans and Democrats in Congress are split over whether to continue with benefits to people who lost their jobs due to the coronavirus, which will expire at the end of July, The New York Times reports.
The Times notes that Democrats support continuing with a $600 per-week supplement after the July expiration date, but the GOP and the White House have signaled that the benefits should end now that states are beginning to reopen, and people are going back to work despite the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
“It’s obvious you’ve got to do something different from what we’re doing,” said Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, who chairs the Senate Finance Committee. “Right now, I would say that probably, if we legislate in that area, it would not be just continuing it for another six months.”
“My view is you don’t take your foot off the gas right now,” said Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., the ranking member on the Senate Finance Committee, said in remarks to the press on Tuesday. “If millions of Americans lose their supercharged benefits and are unable to pay their bills, the economy is not going to be in a position to rebound.”
But even some moderate Democrats are starting to think twice about continuing with the unemployment benefits, with West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin saying that small businesses in his state have expressed their concerns that employees will feel encouraged to stay home because of the low minimum wage there.
“It doesn’t work in West Virginia,” said Manchin. “In some areas, such as New York, California, all that, . . . it’s probably nothing, [and] more attractive for them to go back to work because of the money. So it’s just a difference of cultures where we’re living.”
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