As federal lawmakers work toward a new coronavirus relief bill, most states have begun or will soon begin giving out some enhanced unemployment payments, in smaller amounts than the $600 that expired in July.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency has so far approved all but four states to provide supplemental federal unemployment payments to Americans who have lost work or had their wages reduced due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
President Donald Trump signed an executive order last month to provide up to $400 in weekly unemployment aid to out-of-work Americans.
Workers in 42 states will receive $300 in weekly federal unemployment benefits for at least three weeks. Four — Kentucky, Montana, Vermont and West Virginia — have indicated they will provide an additional $100 for a total of $400 in benefits for those who qualify.
The four states that have not yet been approved are Delaware, Nebraska, Nevada and South Dakota. The government in South Dakota said it won’t apply for the aid, noting that about 80% of its workforce has recovered. Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts said he’s still analyzing the costs.
Only a few states have already begun paying out the enhanced unemployment payments. Most will begin later this month or October. California, Iowa and Minnesota expect to begin this week or next.
Trump’s executive order was met with some resistance from governors who said their state budgets couldn’t afford an increase in unemployment payouts for an extended period of time.
The states are giving out the aid as a stopgap measure as House Democrats negotiate with the White House for a new stimulus deal. The House and Senate have come up with separate plans for new COVID-19 relief and last week said they’re still far apart on key details.
The Democrats, led by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, have pushed for a sweeping bill that would reintroduce the $600 weekly payments, as well as funding for schools, rental assistance, health providers and small businesses.
Senate Republicans, who are negotiating through Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, have called for a “more targeted” bill spending no more than $2.5 trillion.
The Senate returns from its August recess on Tuesday, and the House is scheduled to follow next week.
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