The President Donald Trump administration has shot down propositions to continue the $600-a-week jobless benefits that have buoyed Americans as unemployment reached record highs due to the pandemic, according to the Financial Times (FT).
The decision is now a point of contention in the continuing talks about another stimulus bill to continue aid during the pandemic. The plan is expected to be revealed possibly by later this week, FT reported.
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said the administration would back a $1 trillion package in financial aid, but was against continuing the unemployment benefits, saying the administration didn't want to discourage people from going back to work.
"We want to make sure that people who can go to work safely can do so,” he said, according to FT. “We’ll have tax credits that incentivize businesses to bring people back to work.”
Democrats contend that the additional $600 a week for unemployment benefits is crucial to helping families remain stable as the pandemic continues — particularly in several states that have seen spiking virus infections in the past month.
Chuck Schumer, the top Democrat in the Senate, called the Republicans' proposal inefficient to deal with the country's problems and said it would "not even come close" to dealing with all the country's current issues, adding people are "crying out for relief," FT reported.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said that while the pandemic is clearly continuing and the country is "nowhere near out of the woods" yet, the country also could not afford another total lockdown, according to FT.
Instead, McConnell said he wants to see a middle ground between the multi-trillion-dollar cushion from the total shutdown from the spring and an "ordinary stimulus" for the country to get back to normal, FT reported. He was in favor of more funding for coronavirus testing, an option that might put him at odds with the White House, which has not committed to that yet.