Pelosi, Schumer Call on GOP to Act Ahead of Unemployment Cliff

July 24, 2020 Updated: July 24, 2020

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) urged GOP leaders to act quickly in the coming days, as millions of people are slated to lose extra $600-per-week unemployment benefits that were established in the face of the CCP virus pandemic.

“This weekend, millions of Americans will lose their Unemployment Insurance, will be at risk of being evicted from their homes, and could be laid off by state and local government, and there is only one reason: Republicans have been dithering for months while America’s crisis deepens,” the congressional Democratic leaders said in a statement on Friday.

The expanded benefits are slated to expire on July 31, although some states, including New York, will end the payments on Saturday or Sunday.

House Democrats in May passed a sweeping, $3 trillion stimulus bill called the HEROES Act, which would prolong the extra unemployment benefits until January 2021. Republicans have stated that the bill is too expensive and said the extra unemployment benefits create a disincentive for people to return to work.

The U.S. unemployment rate currently stands at around 11 percent, with at least 30 million Americans out of work. The Labor Department reported Thursday that about 1.4 million applied for unemployment insurance in the past week.

Pelosi and Schumer added in their statement that they were expected to negotiate over the coming weekend, while Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said Thursday that the GOP proposal will not be made until Monday, July 27. It means that the talks are not expected to take place.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin on Thursday told reporters that the bill will provide roughly 70 percent of wage replacement until the end of 2020.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) speaks to reporters following the Senate Republicans weekly policy lunch on Capitol Hill in Washington on June 9, 2020. (Leah Millis/Reuters)

“It is simply unacceptable that Republicans have had this entire time to reach consensus among themselves and continue to flail. Time is of the essence and lives are being lost,” the pair added.

McConnell, meanwhile, said the White House wants more time to review the GOP’s proposal.

“The [Trump] administration has requested additional time to review the fine details, but we will be laying down the proposal early next week,” the Kentucky Republican told reporters. “We have an agreement in principle on the shape of the package.”

The United States has reported more than 3 million cases of the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus and more than 140,000 deaths. Governors across the country have implemented stay-at-home measures, lockdowns, and told certain businesses to close in an attempt to curb the spread of the virus.