While the U.S. Congress is unable to come to an agreement on the next stimulus check, some states are taking it into their own hands this week. The next stimulus bill has stalled, as the House of Representatives and the United States Senate debate a few major issues — particularly enhanced unemployment insurance. Some are utilizing the program in President Donald Trump's executive order instead, while others are fending for themselves.
The enhanced unemployment insurance included in the CARES Act back in March expired on July 31, taking with it the $600 per week payment many out-of-work Americans were depending on. The Senate's proposal would have cut that payment to $200, and while Democrats fought for the full amount, millions have now gone nearly a month without help. That is about to change in states like Oregon, where a state-funded stimulus check is going out this week, according to a report by Fast Company.
Oregon will send a $500 stimulus check to anyone with a gross annual income under $48,000 this week. The big catch is that residents must pick up their check in person, leading to long lines at the credit union. Still, this could be a way to draw the people in need while deterring those who can make it without help.
Oregon is reportedly undecided when it comes to the unemployment benefit passed in Trump's executive order earlier this month, but other states are not. Arizona applied for the program and began sending those extra $300 checks to residents on unemployment last week. Other states will soon be doing the same, including Louisiana, Montana, Iowa, Missouri, New Mexico and Utah.
The way this program works is to draw on the disaster relief fund usually reserved for FEMA, and provide it to states that have applied. It has a strict funding limit of $44 billion, so by some estimations, the aid could last as little as three weeks. Still, an extra $900 could buoy an unemployed person and their family through for a bit longer without losing their housing, food or medical insurance.
Other states have turned down Trump's program, including New York, Mississippi, South Dakota and Washington, D.C. Some leaders in these areas say they do not need the aid and want to save it for those who do, while others are concerned about the implications of drawing so much funding away from FEMA in the midst of hurricane season.
As for a national stimulus program, the Senate is now on recess until Tuesday, Sept. 8, so there is no chance of officially passing an economic package until then. The negotiations carry on in the meantime, but many Americans are at their wits' end.