Extra Unemployment Checks for COVID-19: $300 Included in New ‘Skinny Bill’

extended unemployment benefits

Getty Unemployment benefits for COVID-19 could be extended.

A provision for $300 in extra unemployment checks for Americans who qualify has made it into a new bill proposed by Republicans in the U.S. Senate.

The bill, which was proposed on September 8, is called the “skinny bill” by Republicans and the “emaciated bill” by Democrats because it only includes some items on the relief plan wish list. It does not include a second round of stimulus checks for the American people.

Rather, the bill includes the $300 per week enhanced unemployment checks through late December. According to CNBC, it also gives small businesses more loans through the Paycheck Protection Program and creates COVID-19 liability protections.

The move comes as some states have already received permission from the federal government to give people an extra $300 in unemployment benefits, and some of them are already sending out checks. The significance of the Senate proposal is that it would, if passed, give Congressional authority to the idea. Previously, President Donald Trump used an executive memorandum to authorize the extra checks paid through FEMA funds, but some question his legal ability to do so since Congress was granted funding powers by the U.S. Constitution.

Here’s what you need to know:

Some States Have Already Started Sending Out Checks

detroit coronavirus

GettyA State of Michigan Unemployment Agency office is closed because of coronavirus, COVID-19, in Detroit, Michigan on March 26, 2020.

In most states, the extra checks won’t go out until late September or October. That’s because they can take several weeks to process once FEMA signs off on a state’s application.

In almost all cases, people can expect to receive $300, not $400. The president, when he announced the executive memorandum on unemployment checks, promised Americans the $400. However, he said that 75% of that would be funded by the federal government; the rest was up to the states. A couple states have given people the extra $100, but most have not, at least so far.

The $300 a week marks a 50% cut in the $600 weekly checks unemployed Americans first received early on in the pandemic. Republicans didn’t approve extending that figure, arguing it gives people too much of an incentive not to work.

Forbes has published details about each state’s amount and timeline for the extra unemployment benefits.

The Skinny Bill Faces Democratic Opposition

The so-called skinny bill might not make it through Democrats in the Senate or House. Democratic leaders are already criticizing it. Their votes are needed to get to the 60 required in the Senate to pass the measure, but Republicans think public pressure might bring Democrats to the table.

“Senate Republicans appear dead-set on another bill which doesn’t come close to addressing the problems and is headed nowhere,” Democratic Congressional leaders Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer said in a joint statement.

“Democrats want to work on bipartisan legislation that will meet the urgent needs of the American people but Republicans continue to move in the wrong direction.”

Pelosi called it an “emaciated bill” on Twitter, writing, “Leader McConnell is finally realizing the damage caused by his one-sided “pause” to America’s coronavirus response. Yet a quick glance at his emaciated bill reveals it is designed to allow vulnerable GOP Senators to ‘check the box,’ while failing to put #FamiliesFirst.”

Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Republican, sounded more optimistic, saying a vote would likely come September 10. “The American people don’t need us to keep arguing over what might be perfect, they need us to actually make a law,” McConnell said on September 8, according to Politico. “We’re going to get stonewalling of Democratic leaders out from behind closed doors and put this to a vote out here on the floor. And it’s going to happen this week.”

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