Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) and Vice … [+]
Unless Congress acts now, the $600 a week unemployment benefits will end tomorrow.
Here’s what you need to know.
Stimulus update: Unemployment benefits expire tomorrow
The $600 a week unemployment benefits are scheduled to end tomorrow. The Cares Act — the $2.2 trillion stimulus package — authorized $600 a week of enhanced unemployment benefits. The Cares Act references July 31, 2020 as the official expiration date of these unemployment benefits, which are also known as Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation. However, the U.S. Labor Department says that states can pay unemployment benefits no later than the week ending one week before July 31, 2020. Since July 31 is not a Saturday or Sunday, this means the week prior becomes the end date of these supplemental benefits, which are paid weekly or bi-weekly ending on a Saturday or Sunday. This means that for all states, except New York, the end date would be tomorrow, July 25. New York’s end date would be Sunday, July 26.
Will Congress extend these unemployment benefits?
Congress has several options to address the $600 a week unemployment benefits. Here are 3 potential options:
Option 1: Don’t extend unemployment benefits
Congress could allow the $600 a week unemployment benefits to expire. These enhanced benefits are slated to expire tomorrow, and Congress doesn’t have to extend these supplemental benefits. That said, there is a low likelihood that Congress will completely stop these enhanced employment benefits. Why? More than 40 million Americans have filed for unemployment benefits, and Congress doesn’t want to cut off Americans who need financial support most. It’s also an election year, and member of Congress have to answer their constituents, at least some of whom are uemployed.
Option 2: Use a stop-gap measure for unemployment benefits
If Congress hasn’t finalized a proposal before the unemployment benefits expire, Congress could use a stop-gap measure as a “bridge” to continue unemployment benefits at the current $600 a week rate. This would allow recipients to continue to receive unemployment benefits, and buy Congress more time to finalize a proposal to continue these unemployment benefits.
Option 3: Extend unemployment benefits, but cut the amount
Senate Republicans are expected to extend unemployment benefits, but would reduce benefits from $600 a week to approximately $200 to $300 a week. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said unemployment benefits would be based on an approximately “70% wage replacement.” What does this mean? Many Republicans have believed that the $600 a week unemployment benefit creates a disincentive for recipients to return to work. Multiple Republicans have argued that, with $600 a week unemployment benefits, you can receive more money being unemployed than being employed, which can create a potential disincentive to return to work, which also can perpetuate a longer-term unemployment issue. Democrats will push back against the sharp reduction in unemployment benefits. In contrast, the House of Representatives passed the Heroes Act, a $3 trillion stimulus package, which would extend the $600 a week unemployment benefits through January 31, 2021. Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) also has proposed that Congress extend unemployment benefits based on a state’s unemployment rate.
Can you still get unemployment benefits?
What happens if Congress ends the $600 a week unemployment benefits? It’s possible that Congress will reduce the $600 a week unemployment benefits. Currently, Senate Republicans would cut these unemployment benefits to about $200 a week. If that happens, remember this: you can still collect traditional unemployment benefits through the state where you last worked.
- In most states, you are paid weekly and can receive unemployment benefits up to half your wages, subject to a maximum benefit.
- Most states such as New York, California and Texas offer 26 weeks of unemployment benefits through a state-funded unemployment insurance system.
- You can still receive up to 39 weeks of unemployment through Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC), which provides an additional 13 weeks of unemployment benefits.
- If your state provides less than 39 weeks of unemployment benefits, you can receive the difference through Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA).
Senate Majority Mitch McConnell (R-KY) planned to introduce his new stimulus proposal on Thursday. However, the new stimulus package will be introduced Monday and is expected to include second stimulus checks, liability protection and reduced unemployment benefits. Congress will now work to finalize a stimulus bill based on this key stimulus timeline. Senators depart for summer recess after August 7, so the goal is to finalize a stimulus package before then. Currently, Senate Republicans and Democrats have competing visions regarding unemployment benefits. While Republicans want to reduce unemployment benefits, Democrats want to extend these enhanced unemployment benefits at the current rate of $600 a week. The most likely scenario is that unemployment benefits are extended at a dollar amount less than $600 a week. While Republicans want $200 a week, it’s possible that the amount increases in the final bill.