WASHINGTON (Nexstar) — Congressional lawmakers say another coronavirus relief package is necessary but negotiations are stalled and Republicans can’t decide what to do about the expanded unemployment benefits that expire in days.
Congresswoman Susie Lee (D-NV) implored Republicans to take up the Democrats’ HEROES Act, which was already passed by the House and extends the extra $600 a week in unemployment benefits.
“This is like a drop-dead type of situation,” Lee said. “Families need this money to pay rent and food.”
Senate Republicans can’t agree on the details for another $1 trillion coronavirus relief package. They say the extra $600 a week disincentivizes some Americans from returning to work because it’s more than they would make at their jobs.
Some, like Virginia Congressman Denver Riggleman, want the payments to be more targeted.
“I think a percentage portion based on standard of living, maybe we can do it in a group or geographic area or region,” Riggleman said.
But old technology at state unemployment offices makes that plan hard to roll out.
“The problem that we had is the systems are so archaic that they couldn’t do a percentage,” he said.
With the expanded unemployment benefits about to expire, lawmakers are now racing against the clock to reach a deal — which they say will likely include another round of stimulus checks for Americans.
The plan may also include more help for struggling businesses.
South Dakota Republican Dusty Johnson said, “We want to make sure that, to the extent people need paycheck protection program loans, those continue to be available.”
The plan may also help states and cities dealing with massive tax revenue losses as President Trump continues to push for reopening schools.
“We’re asking Congress to provide $105 billion to schools,” Trump said.
Despite the impending deadline, Republicans have yet to introduce their plan — and the Senate is headed home for the weekend.