3 More States Get Approval for Trump’s Enhanced Unemployment Payment

August 24, 2020 Updated: September 1, 2020

Three additional states were approved for the enhanced unemployment payment made possible by President Donald Trump’s recent executive order.

New York, Alaska, and Georgia were approved, according to Sunday announcements by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), which is processing applications.

All three states chose the option that will see the unemployed get $300 weekly on top of regular unemployment payments. The money is coming entirely from the federal government.

Two governors chose the alternative: a $400 weekly boost, with $100 paid for by the state.

Twenty-six states have now gained approval from FEMA to gain enhanced unemployment payments.

Those states are: Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Kentucky, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, and Vermont.

Governor Andrew Cuomo
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo speaks at the St. Nicolas National Shrine during an event in New York City, N.Y., on Aug 3, 2020. (Carlo Allegri/Reuters)

A number of others have filed applications and are waiting for them to be processed, or have made public the intention to file an application.

Those are Arkansas, Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, New Hampshire, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Virginia, and Washington state.

Delaware officials announced Friday that the state was applying for the $300 per week boost, even as Labor Secretary Cerron Cade criticized Trump.

“While Delaware will be applying for these funds to support workers unemployed due to no fault of their own, I need to be perfectly clear; President Trump’s plan is a Hail Mary that is unnecessarily complicated and will be a nightmare to implement quickly,” Cade said in a statement.

“One of the challenges with this new program is that states are being directed to pay these benefits through FEMA rather than the traditional unemployment sources which we have been using since this crisis began. These funds cannot intermingle. Therefore, states will have to establish new systems which must interface with our existing unemployment rolls to determine eligibility. This could take weeks to get operational.”

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf, a Democrat, announced the same day that his state was filing for the lower enhanced payment option, while blaming stalled negotiations on a congressionally-approved extension of federal payments on Republicans.

“There is still time for Congressional Republicans to pass a good and practical solution that simply extends the extra weekly benefit, and I urge them to act now,” he said in a statement.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) speaks during a press conference before the vote on the ‘Delivering for America Act’ to protect the postal system, on Capitol Hill in Washington, on Aug. 22, 2020. (Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/AFP via Getty Images)

But Republicans have signaled they’d be willing to pass narrow bills like on aimed at bolstered unemployment payments. More than 100 Democrats signed a letter last week urging House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) to schedule a Saturday vote on legislation that would resume $600-a-week payments to the unemployed, but she refused.

Washington state’s Employment Security Department said Thursday it would apply for the enhanced assistance from Trump’s executive order no later than Aug. 21.

“We will implement this as quickly as possible to distribute the extra payments to Washingtonians once our application is approved,” Commissioner Suzi LeVine said in a statement.

Officials in Virginia and Connecticut also submitted papers late last week.

South Dakota is the only state to officially decline any assistance, saying they don’t need it because of low unemployment.

Officials in 12 states—Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Kansas, Nebraska, Nevada, New Jersey, North Dakota, Minnesota, Oregon, Wisconsin, and Wyoming—still aren’t sure whether they will apply for the assistance.

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