The emergency unemployment benefits have expired, but the stimulus check negotiations are still ongoing. Now, workers will reportedly have to wait at least a few weeks to get their federal aid back, even if it is passed soon. On Saturday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told reporters that this likely would not be the case.
Thanks to the CARES Act, millions of unemployed Americans were getting an extra $600 with each unemployment check-up until Friday when that policy expired. Now, experts tell Yahoo Finance that it will take weeks to get this emergency funding back, even if it is passed quickly. Senior Economist Gbenga Ajilore of the Center for American Progress said: "It's going to take maybe three to four weeks to ramp it back up again." Meanwhile, Republicans continue to fight to lower these payments.
Other experts guessed that it would take even longer to get unemployment benefits into struggling Americans' hands. Michael Evermore of the National Employment Law Project said: "A month is a pretty good bet," while the National Association of State Workforce Agencies guessed that it would take five weeks.
All of that is assuming that some form of unemployment benefit is passed. United States Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has revealed his new HEALS Act, a stimulus bill that would drop the $600 enhancement to $200. Even that would be temporary, as McConnell's bill instructs states to create a new unemployment infrastructure to calculate the unemployment bonus based on income.
Pelosi and other members of the U.S. Congress have indicated that the unemployment check is where they will draw the line on Republicans, refusing to compromise on this point. Republicans argue that this payment creates an incentive for Americans not to work — although only people who have been laid off or fired in specific ways can qualify for the benefit. On top of that, critics point out that encouraging people not to work is the point of the benefit, to slow the spread of the coronavirus pandemic.
This is just one of the major arguments surrounding the HEALS Act, which will have to be worked out before any aid can be distributed. McConnell has come under fire for including military funding, construction projects and business lunch write-offs in the bill, while not including housing assistance, unemployment or food scarcity aid. Lawmakers are on a tight deadline to pass some form of relief.