President Donald Trump on Saturday signed an executive order extending enhanced unemployment benefits in a move that Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer is now condemning. Four days after the president signed that order, which extends the benefit at the reduced rate of $400, Schumer took to Twitter to slam the order as "a ruse" that does not offer the American people, tens of millions of whom are unemployed, the necessary aid.
The Trump Unemployment Order:
—Cuts enhanced benefits in half
—Won’t go out for weeks, if at all
—Runs out weeks after that
What a ruse. The American people need a real solution that offers real help! https://t.co/X2bwiEZfGO— Chuck Schumer (@SenSchumer) August 12, 2020
In his tweet, Schumer linked out to a report from The Wall Street Journal citing a senior Labor Department official who alleged funding for the enhanced benefit could run dry in just six weeks. That official said that given the current unemployment numbers, 30 million people receiving unemployment benefits as of July 18, the $44 billion in funds allocated to the benefit could be spent in just five or six weeks, sooner than the December deadline Trump had ordered.
Complicating the issue, and drawing widespread criticism from his opponents, is the fact that not everyone will receive that full $400 amount. Under the president's order, states, many of which are cash-strapped amid the economic crisis, will have to supply 25% of the benefit. Multiple states have already said that they cannot afford to do this and unemployed workers in those states will instead only receive $300.
As Schumer also criticized, it is believed that unemployment benefit recipients will not even begin seeing this additional aid for several more weeks. Although the enhanced benefit starts the week ending Aug. 1, meaning the benefits will be retroactive to that date, states must make changes to their unemployment insurance systems to distribute these funds. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin has claimed that "within the next week or two, most of the states will be able to execute," though speaking to CBS News, Andrew Stettner, a senior fellow at The Century Foundation, said "we're lucky if anyone gets this money in August. It's more likely to be in September at the earliest."
Schumer, who has been vocal in calling out the GOP's handling of the negotiations and the president’s executive orders, has joined House Speaker Nancy Pelosi in calling for Republicans to help save the $600 unemployment benefit that was initially passed under the CARES Act back in late March. That benefit expired on July 31. Democrats have pushed for it to be renewed in full through at least January of 2021, though many Republicans, believing that it dissuades people from returning to work, have called for it to be dropped completely. In their official proposal, the GOP sought to have it extended at just $200 per week through September.