Unemployment Bonuses Lapse: What It Means for Recipients

As of July 31, the unemployment bonuses provided under the CARES Act lapsed, with Congress failing to agree on what could take their place. What exactly does this mean for recipients of the bonus? Well, since it is now August, those who receive unemployment benefits are no longer entitled to the $600 per week in bonuses granted under the aforementioned first stimulus package that Congress enacted back in March.

Under the CARES Act, those who received unemployment benefits received an additional $600 per week to help them deal with the struggles associated with the coronavirus pandemic. But, those benefits expired on Friday, July 31. Days before this deadline, on July 27, Senate Republicans unveiled their new stimulus proposal, the HEALS Act. But, the proposal was soon met with criticism, with those on both sides of the aisle pointing out that the plan did not go far enough when it comes to these unemployment benefits. As a result, much of the discussion this past week revolved around trying to come up with a solution that would bridge the gap between the end of the unemployment benefits under the CARES Act and Congress' second stimulus package.

The HEALS Act did address this issue regarding unemployment benefits. However, the figures in the proposal do not come close to those under the CARES Act. Under the HEALS Act, eligible Americans would be entitled to $200 per week through September, and those benefits would then transition to 70% of working wages. Many lawmakers, including Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, voiced their disapproval for these figures. Pelosi even said, "Republicans in the Senate came back with a piecemeal approach. Clearly, they and perhaps the White House do not understand the gravity of the situation. This is a freight train that is picking up steam." She added, "They [Republicans] resent America's working families, getting the $600, which is essential to their needs. So they've offered $200."

Senators Mitt Romney, Susan Collins, and Martha McSally offered up their own solution to this dilemma on Thursday. Their proposal would allow states to choose whether to implement a reduction of unemployment benefits to 80% of working wages or a gradual decrease to $500 per week in August, $400 per week in September, and $300 per week in October. Pelosi said that this proposal also would not work. "God bless him for having a proposal, I don't think he can pass that in the Senate either," she explained to reporters on Friday. "All of it is predicated on a lower benefit for America's working families at a time where the virus is accelerating."