WASHINGTON — The heated debate continues on Capitol Hill as the Senate tries to pass a $1 trillion coronavirus relief plan. The House passed its $3 trillion plan back in May.
Since the Senate wasn’t able to get its relief bill passed by July 31, millions of Americans could have an even tighter strain on their finances as the weekly $600 unemployment benefit expired.
“It’s outrageous that we haven’t been able to have a vote in the United States Senate to continue the $600 per week extra unemployment insurance benefit,” Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-Marlyand) said. “That's going to hurt millions of Americans who have to keep paying their bills.”
On Friday, the benefit that millions of Americans have been receiving during the pandemic expired because the Senate hadn’t taken a vote on the bill. Republicans and the White House have pushed for a short-term extension, but Democrats rejected the idea.
“And those four different offers have been actually rejected, but more importantly than that, they've not even been countered with a proposal,” White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows said. “So the Democrats are certainly willing today to allow some of the American citizens who are struggling the most under this pandemic to go unprotected.”
Van Hollen said for those Americans whose unemployment benefits expire he would like to see them receive the $600 retroactively.
“The Republican proposal in the Senate was to cut the $600 extra per week to $200 extra per week, which is a huge drop in income and would make many families unable to pay their bills and meet their expenses,” Van Hollen said. “So, that's why just yesterday we asked again to vote on the House-passed bill for $600 a week and Mitch McConnell shot it down. He wouldn't allow the Senate to vote on that.”
Van Hollen said if a deal isn’t passed this weekend, Democrats will continue pressing for a vote.
Lawmakers canceled their August recess on Friday in order to work on the coronavirus bill.