Jul 22, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Senate GOP, White House consider side deal to extend unemployment benefits

Lamar Alexander
Sen. Lamar Alexander. Photo: Al Drago/Pool/Getty Images

Senate Republicans and negotiators from the Trump administration are considering a short-term extension of supplemental unemployment benefits, which are set to expire on July 31, Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) confirmed to reporters Wednesday.

Why it matters: A chaotic Senate Republican lunch on Tuesday revealed that the White House and GOP senators remain far apart on key priorities in the next economic package and that it's unlikely a bill will be passed by the end of next week.

The state of play: The $2.2 trillion CARES Act passed by Congress in March created an extra $600 per week in unemployment insurance, which has helped prop up an economy ravaged by coronavirus-related closures.

  • More than 32 million Americans are currently receiving some form of unemployment benefits, according to Labor Department data released last week.
  • Many Republicans have voiced concerns that the supplemental benefits have disincentivized people to return to work because the enhanced unemployment pays more than their wages.
  • The length and details of the possible extension being negotiated are not yet clear.

Worth noting: While extending the expanded unemployment benefits are a priority for congressional Democrats, there's no guarantee that they would agree to back a short-term fix without additional concessions from Republicans.

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