Senate adjourns for the week as unemployment benefits expire

Trump holds news conference as stimulus bill in flux
Posted at 3:32 PM, Jul 30, 2020

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer did not display optimism on Thursday that all sides are close to a deal on a coronavirus stimulus package. His comments come as the Senate adjourned for the week without agreeing to a stimulus bill.

Schumer said that negotiations at the White House on Thursday did not include Senate Republicans. Schumer claimed that Senate Republicans aren’t unified, and that McConnell would sink any stimulus plan that doesn’t include liability protection for businesses.

“Pres. Trump has called the GOP COVID proposal ‘semi-irrelevant’ and seems to endorse a different policy every time he finds a microphone,” Schumer tweeted. “The one thing we’re sure he supports is a new FBI building to boost the value of his hotel, We will not stop fighting for people and families.”

One issue of disagreement is over unemployment supplements. Last week, millions of unemployed Americans received their last $600 a week addition to unemployment from a previous stimulus package. Officially, the unemployment benefits expire on July 31, but the aid was intended to be paid a week in advance.

For many lower-income workers, the amount of aid was likely more than what they would have received while working. McConnell wants to change that.

"We wanted to be able to help the states afford continuing basic unemployment insurance during these tough times, that's important, but we don't think you should pay people more to stay home than to go back to work,” McConnell said to WLKY-TV.

During his news conference Thursday, Trump said that Senate Republicans were trying to put together a plan to save unemployment supplements.

“I want to thank Senate Republicans for fighting to extend unemployment benefits today — in the face of very strong Democrat obstruction, which I’m surprised at — because this is great for our country and it’s great for our workers, and it wasn’t our workers’ fault,” Trump said.

On Monday, Senate Republicans unveiled their stimulus plans. But getting the White and House Democrats to sign off on it remains a battle.

Highlights of the bill include:

- $1,200 stimulus checks for the same group of Americans who received a check in the spring
- $106 billion in funds for schools to hire staff and conduct social distancing
- Replenishing the Paycheck Protection Program, intended to help businesses keep employees on payroll
- Extending unemployment supplement, although at a lower amount
- Liability protection for businesses reopening amid the pandemic