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‘Trillions’ For Corporations, ‘Crumbs For You’ - $600 Lifeline For The Unemployed ‘Evaporates’

32BJ SEIU President Kyle Bragg: “Republicans Are ‘Forcing Millions’ Of Americans ‘Off A Cliff With Just A Shredded Parachute And Leaving Essential Workers To Continue Risking Their Health And Lives To Keep Us Safe And Our Economy Running.’”

Published Friday, July 31, 2020
by Steve Wishnia/
‘Trillions’ For Corporations, ‘Crumbs For You’ - $600 Lifeline For The Unemployed ‘Evaporates’

(WASHINGTON, D.C.) - The extra $600 a week in Unemployment Insurance Benefits that has helped support more than 30 million people who lost work in the COVID-19 Pandemic expires today (July 31st) - without being extended by Congress.

The House passed a Relief Bill in May, the $3 trillion HEROES (Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions) Act - that would have extended the supplement into January, but Senate Republicans refused to consider it.

They finally introduced their counter-proposal, the $1 trillion HEALS (Health, Economic Assistance, Liability Protection and Schools) Act on Monday (July 27th), which would slash the $600-a-week supplement to $200.

It would also end Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) Benefits for self-employed Workers on December 31st and cut off funding for states to extend regular benefits for 13 weeks after that.

 “The Republican Bill ‘totally fails to recognize the magnitude of the crisis and it directs money to people who don’t need it and takes money away from people who do need it,’” National AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka told CNN earlier this week. “That ‘extra’ ($600) ‘is keeping our economy going’ (by sustaining consumer spending).  (When it expires, 35 million) people are going to have ($600) ‘a week less to spend.’  ‘Can you imagine the shock that is going to go through our economy?’”

McConnell denied the Bill would cut benefits.

“Republicans are not proposing to ‘cut’ any relief,” he said in a statement. “Republicans want to extend Supplemental Unemployment Insurance at hundreds of dollars per week.  If Democrats block legislation, it will stop altogether.”

He said the proposed $200 was “eight times the dollar amount that Democrats established during the last crisis” - the extra $25 a week added between February 2009 and December 2010.

Senate Republicans particularly object to the $600 supplement because many Low-Income Workers are receiving more from unemployment than they were on the job.

“Our Democratic colleagues want to pretend it is controversial that taxpayers should not pay people more not to work than the people who do go back to work,” McConnell said.

“There are (14.5 million) ‘less jobs than there are people out of work, so if people want to get back to work, they couldn’t find jobs anyway,’” responded National AFL-CIO President Trumka responded, who also noted the Bill would not require the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to set new safety standards for preventing infections, but would give employers immunity from liability lawsuits if Workers get infected.

Plaintiffs would have to prove they were infected because of gross negligence or willful misconduct.

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