More than 100 House Democrats are urging Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) to schedule a vote to reinstate the $600 per week Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program that expired last month.
Pelosi has already called the House back from recess to vote this Saturday on the Delivering for America Act to protect the United States Postal Service from President Donald Trump and Postmaster General Louis DeJoy’s sabotage campaign.
“While rescuing the Postal Service is crucial, it is equally important that we provide a lifeline to the 30 million Americans who are relying on unemployment insurance. Therefore, we ask, as members return to Washington to address the crisis at the USPS, that the House consider legislation like the Worker Relief and Security Act (Beyer/Kilmer),” the lawmakers said in a letter dated on Tuesday.
The House already passed the CARES Act in May, which would have renewed the PUA, however, Senate Majority Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and his Republican confederates refused to hold a vote in Congress’s upper chamber.
Thus, Democrats are pleading with Pelosi to hold a vote this coming weekend on the Worker Relief and Security Act, proposed in May by Senators Michael Bennet (D-CO), Jack Reed (D-RI), and Representative Don Beyer (D-CA), which would “extend unemployment insurance provisions from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES) Act, as long as national and state labor markets are weak.”
But the coronavirus pandemic is accelerating, and millions of Americans remain without jobs, income, or a social safety net.
“Since the $600 supplement has expired, countless constituents have reached out to our offices, expressing heartbreaking stories, in which they must choose between paying for groceries or their car payment. Some can make it through the next few months but are worried about what will happen once savings run out. Our economic footing is fragile, and this assistance has been paramount in preventing an even worse economic collapse. As you know, during the last recession, Congress extended emergency unemployment benefits 13 times,” the lawmakers wrote. “This time, we seem headed for an even more perilous path as Republicans have already blown past the deadline to extend the enhanced unemployment compensation with reckless abandon, satisfied by the President’s woefully inadequate Executive Order.”
The American people – and the economy – need help. Now.
The Worker Relief and Security Act “would extend the $600 weekly federal pandemic unemployment compensation (FPUC) for the duration of the national COVID-19 health emergency, and then continue and adjust the weekly federal unemployment compensation amount and number of available unemployment benefit weeks dependent on the state total unemployment rate,” the caucus said. “As Democrats, we know how important it is to get aid to the people who need it most. While there are various proposals to extend unemployment benefits, the only way to provide financial relief to millions of Americans without being subject to political hurdles, is to enact automatic stabilizers for unemployment benefits. By passing legislation that ties unemployment benefits to economic triggers, we can ensure that aid is restored to those who need it and prevent future lapses as long as the economy tells us aid is needed.”
More than 173,000 Americans have died since March. Many experts, like CDC Director Robert Redfield, are warning that fall 2020 could be the “worst fall” that “we’ve ever had” in the United States as COVID-19 spreads and flu season begins.
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Brandon is a political writer for the Hill Reporter specializing in current events, breaking news, and scientific discovery. Brandon holds a Bachelor of Music degree from Indiana University. He lives in New York City.