According to The Associated Press, a spokesperson for FEMA said Thursday, September 10, “the agency is providing money to cover six weeks, from the start of August through the end of this week, with no extension in sight.”
Tennessee, Texas & Montana Are No Longer Expected to Receive Funds
Tennessee’s Department of Labor & Workforce Development announced that FEMA was halting the supplemental $300 unemployment payments after September 5. This means that those eligible for the payments will only receive them for the six-week time period from August 1 to September 5.
The announcement came as only 17 states had upgraded their systems and begun distributing payments, according to The Associated Press.
Nearly three-fourths of the $44 billion in funds originally allocated has already been used, Forbes reported.
The Tennessee Department of Labor & Workforce Development — which started distributing funds on August 26, according to the Tennessean — noted there would be a delay for those waiting on the supplement for the most recent weeks.
“Retroactive payments to claimants will be delayed by two or more weeks after the week ending date because of the time it takes to apply for funding, and then the time it takes for the state to receive the funding and process it,” according to the state’s website. The good news is that eligible individuals will receive retroactive payments.
FEMA also told Texans that they would receive no more payments after September 5, as local news station KTRK-TV reported.
Yahoo Money reported that Montana and Arizona already ran out of the money, and Hawaii’s Department of Labor and Industrial Relations reported that they were expecting benefits to end soon.
There is a temporary remedy; The Associated Press reported that those states that have run out of supplemental unemployment benefits may be able to tap into $2 trillion in Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation, or PEUC. The PEUC lasts 13 weeks and The AP reported that it is currently serving 1.4 million people.
The News Comes With No Deal on a Stimulus Check Bill in Sight
Many Americans, including political leaders, are getting impatient; Republican Senator Martha McSally and the spokesperson for Democratic Senator Krysten Sinema have both expressed their dissatisfaction with the lack of action in Washington, according to local news station ABC15.
“Twice, I have called on my colleagues to pass a short term extension of expanded unemployment benefits while negotiations continued,” McSally said, before blaming Democrats for the delay. Senate Democrats recently blocked legislation that would have extended the extra $300 payment in favor of restoring the full $600-a-week supplements.
“Senator Sinema has urged Congressional leaders to continue enhanced unemployment insurance—and take more action to support Arizona businesses and families …” Sinema’s spokesperson wrote.
What was once a political negotiation has slowly devolved into a bitter, nasty, personal fight between Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows.
In an August 22 press conference, Pelosi referred to Meadows as “what’s-his-name” and described the Republicans’ proposal as “very deficient.” She said Democrats were “not budging” on how much to spend on the new package. Meadows called Pelosi’s requests “a partisan wish list” not based on “real needs,” according to The Washington Post, and Fox News reported he called Pelosi out for attending a salon appointment without a mask despite rules requiring salons to be closed; Pelosi has called the appointment a set-up.
In May, the Democrat-led House passed the $3 trillion HEROES Act, which has since languished on Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s desk. Later in May, Republicans responded by introducing the HEALS Act, which would cost around $1 trillion. Since then, Pelosi has offered to trim the Democrats’ bill by $800 billion while Republicans moved their estimate up by $300 billion. Democrats recently rejected another “skinny” Republican bill and neither side has been able to come up with a compromise.
Trump has floated the idea of using money from the coronavirus relief fund to issue Americans stimulus checks.
During a White House press briefing, Trump said that it would be “appropriate” for Congress to allow him to use the funds:
It’s time for the Democrats to start working across the aisle and put the American people first. Now, we have $300 billion in an account that we didn’t use and I would be willing to release it, subject to Congress, release that money and send it to the American people. It would be a very appropriate thing to release that to the American people and all we need is the sign-off.
Trump has given varying signals about what he wants in a stimulus package, sending one tweet in which he said he wants to send direct payments of $3,400 to families of four. However, he has never issued an executive order to send stimulus checks to Americans and the LWA program is the only one that has provided funds to Americans.