A bipartisan group of U.S. House members is pushing for $450 per week in extended federal unemployment benefits under a newly proposed coronavirus relief package.
The Problem Solvers Caucus, which consists of 25 House Democrats and 25 House Republicans, unveiled its roughly $1.5 trillion package, dubbed “March to Common Ground,” on Tuesday, September 15.
The bill calls for up to $2 trillion in additional aid for the economy — re-purposing $130 billion from previous legislation — and serves as a last-ditch effort to push lawmakers into reaching a decision, stating:
Having seen no progress on a new COVID-19 relief package in four months, and in recognition of Americans’ increasing suffering, the Problem Solvers Caucus (PSC) has developed a comprehensive, bipartisan framework to meet the nation’s needs for the next 6-12 months, that can pass both chambers of Congress and be signed into law by the President.
However, House Speaker has labeled the bipartisan plan “insufficient,” according to Yahoo News. Thus, it’s still an open question whether all of it, or pieces of it, can gain support. Still, it signaled that negotiations are still underway and a plan could come out of that in the end.
While the current $300 unemployment supplement, created by President Donald Trump’s Lost Wages Assistance program, is expected to expire soon, March for Common Ground aims extend those benefits. The extra $300 benefits are retroactive for six weeks back to August 1. When you will get them depends on your state, when it applied for the extra benefits and how long it will take to process them.
Here’s what you need to know about the March for Common Ground and its plan for unemployment benefits.
Extended Benefits Would Run From Mid-October Through January 2021
An online version of March for Common Ground emphasizes the importance of providing “support” for laid-off and furloughed workers while still keeping an incentive to return to the workforce, stating:
The covid-19 virus has caused significant damage to the US and world economy, resulting in lay-offs, furloughs, and an impediment to returning to work. Americans who’ve been displaced from their jobs due to covid-19 need federal support to pay their bills and put food on the table for their families until they can get back to work. It’s important to provide such support without a corresponding economic incentive to remain unemployed.
The PSC suggests paying unemployed Americans an additional $450 per week in federal benefits for an 8-week “transition period,” followed by up to $600 per week to replace lost wages for five weeks.
The 13-week timeline is slated from mid-October through January 2021.
While Top Democrats Reject the Bipartisan Bill, Pelosi Vowed to Pass Legislation Before the Election
On September 15, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi assured that her chamber would not leave for the November elections before passing stimulus legislation, according to CNBC.
“We have to stay here until we have a bill,” Pelosi told lawmakers during a conference call, The New York Times added, citing two people “familiar with the remarks.” However, the Times noted that the bipartisan plan “was swiftly rejected by senior Democrats,” reporting that they called it a “retreat” from the “party’s priorities.”
“When it comes to bolstering the public health system, supporting state and local governments and assisting struggling families, the Problem Solvers’ proposal leaves too many needs unmet,” top Congressional Democrats wrote, according to The Times. “With the general election just 49 days away and the Postal Service sabotaged by the Trump administration, their proposal also abandons our responsibility to protect the life of our democracy.” That opposition came from a group of Democratic committee chairs. Read their full statement here.
“Centrist Democrats” are growing “increasingly frustrated” with the California Democrat’s inflexible nature during negotiations, the newspaper continued.
PSC Strives to Find a Common Ground on ‘Key Issues Facing the Nation’
The congressional Caucus, established in 2017, is comprised of an “independent member-driven group” divided between Democrats and Republicans, according to its website.
Co-Chaired by Rep. Josh Gottheimer (D-NJ) and Rep. Tom Reed (R-NY), the 50-member group strives to find a “common ground” on “key issues facing the nation,” including infrastructure, criminal justice reform, guns and school safety and health care.
Its website states:
the Caucus’ aim is to create a durable bloc that champions ideas that appeal to a broad spectrum of the American people. It is a group united in the idea that there are commonsense solutions to many of the country’s toughest challenges. Only when we work together as Americans can we successfully break through the gridlock of today’s politics.
The March for Common Ground’s framework was approved for endorsement by over 75% of the PSC membership, according to an online version of the proposal.