McConnell: Next Pandemic Stimulus Bill Won’t Extend Enhanced Unemployment Benefits

May 21, 2020 Updated: May 21, 2020

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said the next CCP virus bill will not extend enhanced unemployment benefits that entail an extra $600 per week.

The benefits, which were included in the CARES Act passed in March, “will not be in the next bill,” he told other lawmakers in a conference call.

More aid is likely necessary in the coming weeks as unemployment rates continue to rise, but the unemployment benefits won’t continue, he stressed.

Republicans are “going to have to clean up the Democrats’ crazy policy that is paying people more to remain unemployed than they would earn if they went back to work,” McConnell said.

At the same time, he said House Democrats’ HEROES Act passed last week will not serve as a model for future aid packages. The HEROES Act would extend the $600 extra per week until Jan. 31, 2021. It is currently set to end on July 31.

Now, Republicans will “pause” to evaluate the U.S. economy before a “phase four” stimulus package, the majority leader added in the call.

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) told The Hill that he also pushed President Donald Trump to agree to not extend the enhanced unemployment benefits.

“I asked him not to agree to that. That we can’t. You can extend some assistance, but you don’t want to pay people more unemployed than they made working,” Graham said, but he added that Trump didn’t necessarily say he would support ending the benefits.

Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.) told the website on Wednesday that a reduction in unemployment benefits would lead to a catastrophe.

President Trump Holds News Conference On Paycheck Protection Program
President Donald Trump and his daughter Ivanka listen as Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin speaks during an event on supporting small businesses through the Paycheck Protection Program in the East Room of the White House on April 28, 2020. (Win McNamee/Getty Images)

“There is broad agreement among economists that Congress needs to pass much more stimulus to help the economy recover,” he said. “Cutting back federal assistance at the height of the crisis would mean self-inflicted disaster, devastation, and additional deaths. That must not happen.”

McConnell’s comments come as Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told reporters that it’s likely another stimulus package will have to be passed.

“We’re going to carefully review the next few weeks,” Mnuchin said in an interview with The Hill. “I think there is a strong likelihood we will need another bill” following the already approved $3 trillion “we’re pumping into the economy.”

The U.S. economy, meanwhile, continues to suffer losses amid the pandemic closures.

Another 2.4 million people filed for unemployment benefits in the last week, said the Labor Department. It brings the total of those who filed for unemployment to 39 million in March.