On Saturday, President Donald Trump signed an executive order to extend several economic relief programs, including unemployment benefits. More specifically, Trump called for a $400 weekly supplement to unemployment benefits through Dec. 6, which he said would reach Americans in a "very rapid" manner. However, as Business Insider noted, this bonus likely won't be available for months.
Trump's executive order specifically addressed the topic of unemployment benefits, which have been a significant point of contention between Democrats and Republicans who have been working on another stimulus package. Under the CARES Act, the previous stimulus package that Congress and the White House agreed to in March, eligible Americans received an additional $600 per week in unemployment benefits. But, those benefits expired on July 31 without a plan in place to address this issue. Now, with Trump's executive order, Americans could receive $400 per week as a supplement to federal unemployment insurance. Although, due to the very nature of his executive order, Americans may not get this payment for months.
This weekly unemployment supplement is being funded with $44 billion from the Department of Homeland Security's disaster relief fund. Because of this, governors need to work with the Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA) to manage Trump's initiative. In his memo, the president said that the states should kick in 25% to fund this initiative, meaning that they would provide $100 of the benefit. He said that the federal government would cover the other $300. There is a caveat to this initiative, as individuals can only receive federal aid if they receive $100 from their state in weekly benefits. As a result, the states will have to design this program from scratch, something that experts have said could take months.
Trump's executive order came after another deadline passed without Congress agreeing on another stimulus package. One of the biggest points of contention regarding this package ties back to these unemployment benefits. Unlike the CARES Act, the stimulus proposal that Senate Republicans unveiled in late July, the HEALS Act, only called for $200 per week in additional unemployment benefits. The benefit would then transition to a 70% wage replacement. This figure did not sit well with lawmakers on both sides of the aisle, as everyone from the Democratic Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi to Republican Senator Rob Portman of Ohio criticized this figure.