Earlier this week, Senate Republicans unveiled their $1 trillion stimulus package. In their plan, they proposed a reduced unemployment benefit of $200 a week through September that would replace the $600 per week in unemployment benefits given to individuals under the CARES Act. There has been some criticism regarding the reduction in unemployment benefits under Senate Republicans' new plan, and Senator Rob Portman of Ohio has even spoken out to push for Congress to pass a worthy unemployment benefit replacement by July 31.
During his appearance on the Squawk Box, Portman said that Congress needs to agree on unemployment benefits soon. The $600 per week in unemployment benefits available under the CARES Act is set to expire on Friday, July 31. "If we do nothing because we end up in a partisan gridlock here and both sides go to their corners, the people who get hurt are the workers because the $600 will end," the senator explained, per CNBC. "There's a cliff, and we can't let that happen, so we need to do something before Friday."
Portman, who is a member of the Senate Finance Committee, feels "very strongly" about the need for Congress to act regarding unemployment enhancements as the coronavirus pandemic continues to affect employment in the United States. "We cannot allow us to go through a period where there is no employment insurance going out to people. Six hundred dollars to zero is not a good option," Portman said. "But again, there are practical solutions here."
Under their coronavirus relief plan, Senate Republicans proposed a reduced unemployment benefit of $200 per week through September. Their plan then calls for there to be a different formula in place that would cap total state and federal unemployment benefits at 70% of lost wages. While this would be a significant change from the benefits given under the CARES Act, the $600 per week in unemployment benefits does last through Friday. Although, as CNBC reported, because of a technicality with unemployment programs, some states have stopped paying out this bonus to the many Americans who need unemployment amidst this challenging time in the country. Republicans have said that this $600 per week in unemployment benefits could be a deterrent for workers to return to the workforce, as they could make more on unemployment than they would at their jobs. On the other hand, Democrats have called for the $600 benefit to extend into next year, as they believe that it is necessary amidst one of the worst economic crises in this country.