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Sen. Lindsey Graham made it more than clear he will oppose the extending of federal unemployment payments as part of the coronavirus relief law.
The government’s additional $600 unemployment benefit will end on July 31 and the South Carolina Republican said at an event in his home state that it would only get re-authorized “over our dead bodies.”
(Relevant portion of video begins at 2:20 mark)
(Source: Fox Carolina News)
Emergency benefits were extended by Congress in the coronavirus relief package passed in March giving Americans who had lost their jobs $600 per week in addition to their regular unemployment benefits. With social-distancing and stay-at-home orders and the closing of nonessential businesses, millions of people have filed for unemployment benefits in the last few weeks as they face job losses and furloughs.
Appearing at a panel event for AccelerateSC, the coronavirus task force created by South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster, Graham addressed the additional unemployment payments.
“What have we learned? We learned that when you pay people not to work, they will take you up on it,” Graham said at the event this week, as he sat alongside fellow Republican Senator Tim Scott.
“It doesn’t mean they’re lazy. It means if you pay $23 to people not to work, they’ll probably take that over $17 to go to work even though people like working,” the Senate Judiciary Committee chairman added.
“So July 31st is when this expires,” Graham asserted.
“And I promise you, over our dead bodies this will get reauthorized. We’ve got to stop this. You cannot turn on the economy until you get this aberration in the law fixed,” he asserted.
Graham echoed his remarks in response to questions he was asked in a virtual town hall he held this week.
Sen. Lindsey Graham: “You want to make sure people are made 100% whole but they don’t get a pay raise in unemployment.” pic.twitter.com/MSRn16pDQe
— The Hill (@thehill) April 30, 2020
This week also saw the coronavirus death toll in the U.S. cross the 60,000 mark, and the Labor Department reported the more than 30 million people are now unemployed in the country.
Democratic Rep. Dan Kildee of Michigan has proposed extending the $600-per-week unemployment payments through the end of 2020.
“We can’t have these short-term interventions for what will be a long-term problem,” Kildee told Vox. “We need to scale the response to the actual crisis.”
Kildee introduced the bill, which has 53 cosponsors, and hopes to include it in the draft of the next coronavirus relief package that the House is working on.
“We’re going to see rolling layoffs, somebody could get laid off in October or September,” Kildee told Vox. “What we’re trying to do with this legislation is realistically frame the benefit to what we think the course of the crisis actually looks like and be realistic that we’re in this for a while.”
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell had indicated he is opposed to a full re-authorization of the initial relief bill, but this week said he is “open” to allotting extra funding for state and local governments in the next coronavirus package.
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