WASHINGTON, D.C. (NEXSTAR) – Millions of Americans have come to rely on extra unemployment benefits since the pandemic started.
For months, the federal government has doled out an extra $600 a week for people getting unemployment assistance, but that will soon end and there’s no new solution on the table.
Millions of unemployed Americans may soon take another financial blow.
“I’m very concerned about the benefits just being cutoff,” said Ohio Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown.
Brown and other Democrats like Illinois Rep. Jan Schakowsky, want to extend the supplemental $600 a week unemployment payments into next year.
“As the richest country in the world, of course, we have to extend these benefits,” Schakowsky said.
There’s also pressure from outside groups who say that extra $600 a week has been a lifeline for many Americans.
“We want Congress to continue that extended, or extend those expanded benefits for unemployment until this crisis is over,” said Susan Weinstock, vice-president of the AARP.
But Ohio Republican Sen. Rob Portman said the COVID unemployment benefits pay some people more money to stay home than they made on the job.
“We’ve got to change it so it’s based on what your work is,” Portman said.
He wants to base the next round of benefits on a percentage of a person’s salary and include a cap as to how much a person can collect.
Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin hinted the Trump Administration is open to something along those lines.
“We’re looking at something that looks like a 70 percent wage replacement,” Mnuchin said.
But even if Congress comes up with a last-minute compromise before the end of the month, most states need weeks to update their computer systems.
That would mean at least a temporary end to the extra benefits is almost certainly unavoidable.