Extra $600 unemployment benefit likely to expire before the next stimulus bill passes

July 21, 2020, 8:12 PM UTC

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House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Tuesday she hopes both parties can come to an agreement by the end of next week for the next stimulus bill. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy shared that sentiment Tuesday, but added he doesn’t see it passing Congress until August.

If Congress can’t pass a stimulus bill this week, it means the 17.3 million Americans currently receiving unemployment benefits are likely to see their $600 per week federal unemployment benefits lapse.

The CARES Act, which passed in March, set aside an additional $600 per week in unemployment insurance for jobless Americans on top of their state benefits. However that money only goes through the week ending Saturday, July 25. If Congress waits until August to pass an extension, those unemployed Americans could go a few weeks without that federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance.

These Americans will still receive their state unemployment benefits, but in most states that only replaces a fraction of income. In New York State, for example, the maximum weekly benefit is $504.

Why isn’t Congress acting sooner? Republicans and Democratic leaders have both expressed an openness to some extension of the weekly federal unemployment bonus. But they have big disagreements on other areas of spending that are holding up the bill.

House Democrats would like to see the next stimulus bill provide more than $1 trillion to state and local governments to help offset their massive revenue losses. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has seemed resistant to the idea, calling it a “blue state bailout.”

Meanwhile, McConnell reiterated his goal this week of including immunity for businesses and organizations from coronavirus related lawsuits. That’s something Democrats have seemed less open to, arguing it could harm workers. On Tuesday McConnell went as far to say he wouldn’t put a bill on the Senate floor that didn’t have legal protections for businesses.

One bright spot: If Congress does pass another stimulus bill with an extension of the weekly unemployment bonus in some form, they could make it retroactive, giving unemployed Americans backpay for the lapsed period.

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