Quantcast
Connect with us

‘Indefensible and disgusting’: Senate departs for 3-day weekend as unemployment benefits expire for 30 million

Published

on

“Tens of millions of Americans on the brink of eviction and food insecurity and the Senate just left for yet another 3-day weekend.”

The Republican-controlled U.S. Senate has adjourned for a three-day weekend as enhanced unemployment payments are officially set to lapse on Friday, guaranteeing that tens of millions of Americans will see their incomes drop by 50-75% with another rent payment due in 24 hours.

ADVERTISEMENT

The Senate’s departure followed a long day of jockeying and blame-hurling on the floor Thursday that ultimately failed to produce a solution for the nearly 30 million Americans who for months have relied on the $600-per-week unemployment insurance (UI) boost to meet basic needs as the economy remains in deep recession.

“Mitch McConnell’s failure to act already sealed this lapse, and half-measures and gimmicks from the White House cannot undo it.”
—Rep. Don Beyer

The chamber is not set to reconvene until 3 pm Monday.

“Just so we’re all clear,” tweeted economist Robert Reich, “more than 25,000,000 unemployed Americans are about to lose their extra unemployment benefits, and the Senate just left for a three-day weekend. Republicans have lost the right to govern.”

On Thursday afternoon, Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) attempted to pass by unanimous consent legislation that would give states an option to either pay out a federally funded $200-per-week UI boost or implement a formula that would replace two-thirds of a laid-off worker’s previous wages. Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) called Johnson’s proposal “so heartless even Cruella de Vil wouldn’t endorse it.”

ADVERTISEMENT

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) blocked passage of Johnson’s legislation—which would have amounted to a $1,600-per-month drop in benefits for millions of Americans—and subsequently attempted to pass the HEROES Act, a sprawling legislative package approved by the Democrat-controlled House in May that would extend the weekly $600 UI boost through January of next year. Johnson blocked the bill.

Later, Sen. Martha McSally (R-Ariz.) tried to pass a one-week extension of the $600 boost but Schumer objected, dismissing the effort as “clearly a stunt.” The Washington Post‘s Jeff Stein noted on Twitter that it likely would have taken around two weeks for the one-week extension payment to actually reach people.

As Politico reported Thursday, “tens of millions of laid-off American workers will go weeks without federal jobless aid—because Congress hasn’t renewed the benefits in time for overwhelmed state unemployment systems to adjust their computers.”

ADVERTISEMENT

“State offices will need weeks to reprogram their systems to account for an extension of the $600 weekly federal payments that expire on Saturday—or any changes that Congress makes to the benefit amount or eligibility rules,” Politico reported. “That comes on top of hardships faced by workers in states like Washington and Nevada, who are already waiting months to get their first payments in the middle of the coronavirus pandemic because their unemployment offices can’t handle the historic flood of claims.”

Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.) tweeted late Thursday that Democratic lawmakers have been warning for weeks about the coming lapse in benefits—but Senate Republicans, led by Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), refused to budge.

ADVERTISEMENT

“Mitch McConnell’s failure to act already sealed this lapse,” said Beyer, and half-measures and gimmicks from the White House cannot undo it.”

ADVERTISEMENT

Ryan Thomas, national press secretary for advocacy group Stand Up America, tweeted that “Mitch McConnell is holding our economy and our democracy hostage” by skipping town without passage of Covid-19 relief.

“He’s threatening our lives and livelihoods,” Thomas wrote. “Indefensible and disgusting.”

ADVERTISEMENT

Schumer and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) met once more Thursday night with White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, but the two sides emerged apparently without making any progress toward a deal.

“We had a long discussion and we just don’t think they understand the gravity of the problem,” Schumer said at a press briefing following the meeting. “The bottom line is this is the most serious health problem and economic problem we’ve had in a very—in a century and in 75 years. And it takes really good, strong, bold action. And they don’t quite get that.”

The Senate’s failure to secure an extension of the UI boost came on the same day the Commerce Department reported that the U.S. economy contracted at a record-shattering 32.9% rate last quarter. The Labor Department also reported Thursday that 1.43 million people filed jobless claims last week.

Heidi Shierholz, senior economist and director of policy at the Economic Policy Institute,  noted in a blog post that “last week was the 19th week in a row that unemployment claims have been more than twice the worst week of the Great Recession.”

ADVERTISEMENT

“Republicans in the Senate just allowed the across-the-board $600 increase in weekly UI benefits to expire,” Shierholz wrote. “They are proposing to (essentially) replace it with a $200 weekly payment. That $400 cut in benefits is not just cruel, it’s terrible economics. These benefits are supporting a huge amount of spending by people who would otherwise have to cut back dramatically. The spending made possible by the $400 that the Senate wants to cut is supporting 3.4 million jobs.”


Report typos and corrections to: [email protected].
READ COMMENTS - JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Continue Reading

Breaking Banner

Veteran Republican operative shames the GOP — and warns they won’t get rid of Trumpism ‘for at least a generation’

Published

on

Stuart Stevens is a veteran Republican campaign operative from five presidential races. When he spoke to PBS's Judy Woodruff Wednesday, he lamented the GOP failed the moral test it was presented with Donald Trump.

"Well, I think there's been two strains in the party. Call it an Eisenhower strain going back to the '50s and a McCarthy strain," Stevens said, recalling when the GOP would talk about expanding their party and bringing in more African-American voters. "Now we don't even hear any talk anymore of a big tent. And we seem to have settled into a very comfortable white grievance identity."

Continue Reading

Breaking Banner

Seth Meyers mocks Trump’s Axios interview where he ‘couldn’t even remember his own BS — that’s how fried his brain is’

Published

on

In his response to President Donald Trump's bizarre interview with Axios reporter Jonathan Swan, "Late Night" comedian Seth Meyers explained the Trump interview in a single photo:

"You know something has gone horribly wrong when a journalist interviewing the president looks like that," said Meyers. "That's the face you make when your dad gets drunk and decides to tell you about the night you were conceived."

Continue Reading
 

Breaking Banner

Former Trump ambassador tells Rachel Maddow ‘it’s a big red flag’ that Trump is trying to hide investigation of Turnberry scam

Published

on

Former acting ambassador to the U.K., Lewis Lukens, told MSNBC's Rachel Maddow that the inspector general raised questions to him and embassy staff in the U.K. about President Donald Trump's demand for the ambassador to lobby for the British Open to be hosted at Trump's golf course in Scotland.

According to Lukens, he told those questioning how to go about getting the British Open at Trump Turnberry, and Lukens said he was clear that it was "unethical" and "possibly illegal." Still, Trump's cronies persisted.

He explained that when the inspector general did the investigation they went back to Washington to write up the report and that it should have been released by now, but it obviously has not. Today, the acting IG, who took over just three months ago, abruptly resigned.

Continue Reading
 
 
You need honest news coverage. Help us deliver it. Join Raw Story Investigates for $1. Go ad-free.
close-image