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Deal on U.S. coronavirus aid bill difficult as jobless benefit nears expiration

Updated: Aug 1, 2020

Just one day before a federal jobless benefit was set to expire, the US Congress was no closer to a deal extending the extra 600$ per week in payments to millions of Americans who had lost their jobs due to the pandemic.

 With the lack of a deal, the Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell has tried

maneuvering to allow votes next week on the Republican plan to extend the expiring benefit for the people without work, to make it to only 200$ a week. The move has a high chance of getting blocked by Democrats who want the benefit to remain the same, it may also spur the 2 parties and the White House to advance negotiations next week which may lead to a compromise. 

 As of now the Senate has adjourned for the weekend but shall return on Monday after the benefit has expired. The Senate must reach an agreement fast, otherwise, the country may face a kind of subsistence crisis with millions of people out of jobs not even getting the money to buy items for their basic needs. Donald Trump has said in a press conference that in addition to extending the jobless benefits, he wants to help extend protection from eviction to renters who have lost their job. 

 Democrats have already put forth a proposal extending a moratorium on evictions that expired on the 25th of July, but have resisted White House entreaties to make a separate deal on that and unemployment insurance benefits while keeping coronavirus relief related issues for later. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin and White House chief of staff Mark Meadows are expected to meet Democrats on Thursday to discuss coronavirus relief measures. Meanwhile, Joe Biden has accused McConnell and Trump of risking further economic slowdown by refusing to grant extra federal funds to state and local governments.

 Democrats have constantly pushed for extending the supplemental jobless benefit as part of the 3 trillion dollar coronavirus aid bill passed by the house of representatives, while republicans want 1 trillion dollars overall as the aid package the supplemental benefit for the unemployed proposed by both parties is on top of state unemployment benefits.

Republicans on the other hand have criticized the benefit because when combined with the state unemployment benefit, some people end up with more than they used to get when they were working. Congress has already passed aid packages which total 3 trillion dollars already to alleviate the effects of the virus.

Reporter: Jovan H

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