Republicans are fighting with Democrats on unemployment funds as each week brings another million Americans into the jobless market. Democrats want to keep the $600 in funds while Republicans want to cut the amount to $200. By the end of the month, the payments will stop.
There's a concern that if Republicans don't pass a bill quickly, it will be too late for Americans desperately trying to pay their rent and mortgage. Democrats in Congress passed a bill in May, urging Republicans to prepare for the worst-case scenario, but Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) appears to have ignored the suggestion.
According to Bloomberg, the news is getting worse. It now appears that thousands of unemployed Americans never got their checks.
"State unemployment agencies have been so swamped with claims that more than $100 billion of benefits owed still haven’t been paid," the report said, citing their calculations using Treasury and Labor Department data. "Those billions should eventually be distributed -- even if Congress doesn’t act to extend the benefits, set to expire on July 31. But the delays underscore the magnitude of the nation’s jobless crisis, as well as the daunting bureaucratic challenges of coping with it."
Some out of work have only gotten part of the funds they were promised.
Bloomberg reported on Morgan Johnson, a single mother in Pennsylvania, who was flagged for fraud and hasn't gotten her unemployment in six weeks. She said she's on the verge of "losing everything."
“It feels unbelievable, it feels so surreal,” said Johnson. “There are no end results that you can expect or look forward to. This is just not right at all.”
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) explained last week that it's easier to distribute a flat amount of cash than most unemployment offices where they use a formula based on previous employment to calculate the amount. If that is what unemployment is changed to, as Republicans are seeking, it could mean even slower payments as systems aren't set up to calculate and distribute the funds in that way.
Craig Barnette is an unemployed drummer sitting in the hospital having just beat COVID-19. He hasn't gotten any payments since May, he said, and he can't figure out why.
“There’s no rhyme or reason to anything and it’s next to impossible to connect with an actual person” to get help, he said.
Republicans claim that the $600 in additional cash means that people will continue to pocket the cash instead of going back to work. The amount is so little, it's prompting many to note that if an additional $600 a month makes someone's life so much better they don't want to go back to work then those people weren't being paid a reasonable wage to begin with.