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Lawmakers work to extend unemployment benefits set to expire in July

Washington D.C.

WASHINGTON, D.C. (NEXSTAR) — When Congress passed its first major stimulus package in the midst of the COVID crisis, it provided extended unemployment benefits which are set to run out. 

While millions of Americans are still out of work, the additional unemployment benefits they are getting — providing an economic lifeline for many — are set to expire. 

“This unemployment insurance uncertainty is devastating,” Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi says Congress must extend the extra weekly $600 unemployment benefit beyond July 31.

But she says it should be part of a stimulus package that includes money for hospitals, testing, and local governments. 

“They really are all connected, they are all of one piece,” Speaker Pelosi said.

“We do not have a handle on this,” Rep. Brian Higgins, D-N.Y., said.

Democrat Brian Higgins says given the recent rise in COVID cases, Congress needs to help Americans to stay home — without losing income. 

“So long as the disaster is still with us, we will need to provide disaster relief,” Rep. Higgins said.

Speaker Pelosi says all of that is included in the Heroes Act, the $3 trillion stimulus package the House passed in May. But Republican leaders say — as is — it won’t pass the Senate.

“It’ll be better to do one package all together,” Rep. Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., said.

And in that package, House GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy says Congress should not extend the $600 unemployment benefit.

“If somebody is off work from COVID, should they make more money than when they were working? Because remember that money is not free,” Rep. McCarthy said.

McCarthy says the unemployment bonus discourages people from working.

“There are a number of businesses that have called people back, and they said I’d rather stay off,” he said.

McCarthy is confident both parties will have a negotiated stimulus package before August. 

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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