Second Stimulus: Frustrated Americans Struggle Without Unemployment as Negotiations Stall in Congress

It has now been about five months since Congress passed its first stimulus package, the CARES Act. Lawmakers are currently trying to come to an agreement regarding a second stimulus plan to no avail. As USA Today noted, Congress' failure to agree on another stimulus package has led to numerous issues for Americans across the country as they deal with the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

USA Today spoke to Americans who have been negatively affected by this health crisis. Cody Waymack, who lives in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, told the publication that he and his wife have been struggling to keep themselves and their two children afloat amidst this pandemic. Waymack explained that he was four days into a new job as a pipe fitter at a chemical plant when he was laid off in March. His wife worked at a sandwich chain and was eventually laid off, as well. The Waymacks previously received the additional $600 per week in unemployment benefits that were provided under the CARES Act. But, those benefits expired at the end of July. As a result, Waymack and his wife are living off of their weekly state unemployment checks which total $97 and $48.

The Waymacks do not qualify for the new $300 in weekly unemployment benefits that President Donald Trump called for in his memorandum that he issued at the beginning of August. Under his memorandum, individuals must receive $100 in unemployment benefits from the state before they can receive the $300 in aid from the federal government. Waymack said that it was heartbreaking to hear that they did not qualify for this aid. He shared that he is worried that his family could receive an eviction notice for their apartment as they do not have enough funds to pay their rent come Sept. 1. Waymack went on to say that he is angry that Congress did not pass an extension of the $600 in additional unemployment benefits before they went on recess until Labor Day.

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"Congress has failed us. I can't even afford groceries," Waymack said. He added that he does not have enough in his savings to fall back on amidst this unprecedented health and economic crisis. "They don't have to worry about where their next meal will come from or whether they'll get evicted. They're still getting paid while we're begging for help." As of right now, it's unclear when and if Congress will be able to come together on a new stimulus package. While lawmakers have presented various stimulus proposals, such as the HEROES Act and the HEALS Act, Democrats and Republicans have not been able to come to an agreement on any of these proposals.