Senate Republicans Say They Won’t Extend Unemployment

JM Ashby
Written by JM Ashby

Congressional Democrats have already voted to extend the Pandemic Unemployment program that offers an additional $600 per week to people who've lost their jobs, but Senate Republicans are still saying they won't agree to include it in a third stimulus bill.

The coronavirus is flaring out of control with new records being set every day and a growing number of businesses are being told to close down -- again -- but Republican say they won't extend the program because it discourages work.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell twisted himself into knots to say they have to do something while also saying he won't extend the program.

"Unemployment is extremely important. And we need to make sure, for those who are not able to recover their jobs, unemployment is adequate," Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., told reporters. "That is a different issue from whether we ought to pay people a bonus not to go back to work. And so I think that was a mistake."

"And we're hearing it all over the country, that it’s made it harder actually to get people back to work," he added. "But to have the basic protections of unemployment insurance is extremely important and should be continued."

McConnell didn't elaborate on what Republicans have in mind.

It's a misnomer to say that the benefits discourage people from working because some states have already implemented measures that will remove you from unemployment if you refuse to go back to your job.

That's just the most obvious problem with the GOP's favorite talking point, but there are others. For example, in many cases there's no jobs to go back to and that's especially true for specific industries. A family member of mine cannot go back to their job because the chain they worked for permanently closed hundreds of their locations.

If the Pandemic Unemployment program ends about 4 weeks from now, a lot of Americans will see their weekly income drop from about 900 to around 300 depending on which state they live in. Allowing that to happen could be equivalent to a second minor recession all on its own as the program is supporting about 3 million jobs according to the Congressional Budget Office.

Other Republicans have said the benefits are simply too generous.

Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kansas, a senior member of the Finance Committee, said many in the caucus see the jobless benefits as "a disincentive to work — to come back to work."

"It certainly does not have the backing that it had before because of many small businesses that have come forward and said that people just don’t want to come back — that they were making more than they did when they worked," he said.

Hey, maybe we should pay people a living wage.

  • This Republican BS is also hugely insulting to Americans. Most Americans WANT to work. They want to get back to their jobs, be contributing to our society, and a slightly higher weekly income won’t change that.

    And hell yes, everyone should be paid a living wage in the first place.

  • Draxiar

    Y’know what a disincentive to work is? The cost of child care while parents work multiple jobs. The alternative? leave the kids home alone which isn’t an option for many. Let’s not forget that kids were out of school since March and will continue to be out school for the summer. Many summer programs for day care or activities have been put on hold leaving people in the same position- how are their kids cared for while the parents are now forced to go back to work during a pandemic if they have jobs at all? And if they don’t have jobs how the hell do they support their household?

    Most people in the country don’t have the luxury of smug indifference the way boorish, rich Republicans- like Moscow Mitch- do.

  • muselet

    Remember the “Food Stamp Challenge” stunt some Rs pulled a few years ago? You know, where members of the Arsehole Caucus would spend only as much on food for one month as they’d get in SNAP benefits? Then they’d brag about how much food they could buy, even some luxury items?

    The point, if I may be overly generous, was to show that the nutritional assistance program was too generous and should be slashed so it wouldn’t be a disincentive to work. All they proved, though, was that they’d never experienced food insecurity.

    Now Rs are pissing and moaning about the enhanced unemployment benefit, claiming it’s too generous and is a disincentive to work. All they’re proving is that they haven’t had to live on a tight budget in years (or, in some cases, many decades).

    I’m convinced that Rs have heard of the concept of empathy and have decided they want nothing to do with it.


  • David Greenberg

    Rs really do have shit for brains. By doing this they guarantee that the economy goes in the tank for a long time and certainly beyond November’s elections. That will result in huge losses in congress and certainly rump will lose as well. Combined with their attempt to take away health care insurance for 20 million+ Americans, no amount of race baiting or conspiracy mongering or smearing will keep them in power. Good riddance. A real chance to get our country back.