Trump Officials Float Idea of Narrow Bill to Extend Unemployment Benefits

In addition to the unemployment benefits change and liability protections, the Republican legislation is expected to include $105 billion for schools and billions of dollars more for testing, contact tracing and vaccine distribution. Some of the education funds would be reserved for elementary and secondary schools that are reopening and bringing students back to a more traditional, in-person setting.

The bill is likely to provide for another round of stimulus checks to American families, though it remains unclear who would be eligible to receive those payments. Larry Kudlow, the director of the National Economic Council, said on Sunday that the checks would be worth $1,200, though he did not detail who precisely would receive them.

The largest sticking point, though, has been the effort to scale back unemployment insurance benefits. The White House and congressional Republicans largely agree that the $600 weekly payment established in the $2.2 trillion stimulus law on top of state unemployment pay is too generous, in some cases providing recipients more money than they received in their job, and discourages people from returning to work.

“The original unemployment benefits actually paid people to stay home, and actually a lot of people got more money staying at home than they would going back to work,” Mr. Meadows said on Sunday. “So the president has been very clear, our Republican senators have been very clear, we’re not going to extend that provision.”

Democrats, who want to extend the current benefit through the end of the year, say Republicans’ plan would present significant technical hurdles and cut funds to Americans when they need it. When Democrats in March proposed matching 100 percent of a worker’s prior income, Labor Department officials said that antiquated state unemployment systems would make it too complicated to execute.

The National Association of State Workforce Agencies also warned Capitol Hill this week that such a significant change to the current program was likely to take months for states to carry out, according to a memo obtained by The New York Times, meaning that it would take even longer for Americans to start receiving the benefits again.

Even though the benefits program is set to expire at the end of July, workers in most states are already losing access to the expanded unemployment payments. Experts fear further economic turbulence if the program is not quickly reinstated.

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