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Coronavirus Live Updates: A $600-a-Week Lifeline for Unemployed Americans Expires After an Impasse in Washington

Coronavirus Live Updates: A $600-a-Week Lifeline for Unemployed Americans Expires After an Impasse in Washington

The State
Coronavirus Live Updates - A $600-a-Week Lifeline for Unemployed Americans Expires After an Impasse in Washington

California became the first state to reach 500,000 total cases. Once the site of a major outbreak, Italy now offers lessons for keeping the virus in check.

Tens of millions of jobless Americans are losing a benefit that helped keep them afloat.
A $600 weekly jobless benefit from the federal government that became a lifeline for tens of millions of unemployed Americans, while also helping prop up the coronavirus-ravaged economy, expired at midnight as officials in Washington failed to agree on a new relief bill.

The loss of the aid will leave millions struggling to make ends meet at a precarious moment when nearly 11 percent of Americans have said that they live in households where there is not enough to eat, according to a recent Census Bureau survey, and more than a quarter have missed a rent or mortgage payment.

And it comes as unemployment remains at record levels. More than 1.4 million Americans filed new for state unemployment benefits last week, the Labor Department said Thursday. It was the 19th straight week that the tally exceeded one million, an unheard-of figure before the pandemic. Some 30 million people are receiving unemployment benefits.

“With the $600, you could see your way a little bit,” said Ms. Francis, 59. “You could feel a little more comfortable. You could pay three or four bills and not feel so far behind.”

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Democrats wanted to extend the $600 weekly payments through the end of the year, as part of an expansive $3 trillion aid package that would also prop up state and local governments that are weighing layoffs and service cuts to offset dwindling tax revenues. Republicans, worried that the $600 benefit left some people with more money than they earned when they were working, sought to scale it back to $200 per week as part of a $1 trillion proposal.

White House officials and Democrats blamed each other on Friday for the benefit’s expiration.

At a White House news conference, Mark Meadows, President Trump’s chief of staff, accused Democrats of playing “politics as usual.” At the Capitol, Nancy Pelosi, the House Speaker, declared that administration officials “do not understand the gravity of the situation.”

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Both said they planned to continue discussions, possibly into the weekend, to find a compromise. But the talks will come too late to help laid-off workers set to lose their aid.

As the deadline neared, Republicans proposed continuing the $600 benefit for one week while talks continue. Democrats rejected the short-term extension.

“When you have a six-day, one-week extension on a provision, it is usually — has always been — to accommodate a legislative topic if you’re on the verge of having an agreement,” Ms. Pelosi said. “Why don’t we just get the job done? Why don’t we just get the job done?”

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