WASHINGTON, D.C. (NBC) – The partisan struggle in Congress is intensifying on a new coronavirus relief package.
That $600 federal weekly unemployment check is due to expire Friday and Republicans are pushing for a reduced benefit.
Republicans claim Democrats lack urgency in negotiating any kind of compromise, including a reduced, temporary extension of benefits.
But Democrats, including Joe Biden, claim Republicans have ignored a $3 trillion dollar aid bill which passed the House months ago, and includes aid for states and cities whose budgets are in disarray from the crisis.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said of the Democrats, “They basically won’t engage period. The speaker and the Democratic leader are playing rope a dope with the health, welfare and livelihoods of American families. With benefits expiring, with the paycheck protection program winding down, and millions unemployed, the Democrats are saying my way or the highway with a socialist wish list that was laughed off by everyone from journalists to economists the instant they introduced it.”
Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) said, “1.4 million Americans filed new claims for unemployment last week, the number’s going up again. Our economy is still shedding jobs, Americans are losing their paycheck through no fault of their own and Republicans want to take $1600 out of their pockets every single month. Give people who lost their jobs through no fault of their own a 34% pay cut? Shocking, inhumane, wrong.”
Republicans argue the $600 weekly benefit is part of an unemployment package totaling more than most recipients earn in their regular jobs.
Democrats say the aid is needed for families and to boost consumer spending in the economy in the midst of mass unemployment.