Unemployment Payments Likely Won’t Lapse Despite Trump Delay in Signing Bill: Labor

Unemployment Payments Likely Won’t Lapse Despite Trump Delay in Signing Bill: Labor
Food is loaded as drivers in their vehicles wait in line on arrival at a food distribution hosted by the Los Angeles Food Bank in Hacienda Heights, Calif., on Dec. 4, 2020. (Frederic J. Brown/AFP via Getty Images)
Zachary Stieber

Millions of unemployed Americans will probably not miss benefits, the Department of Labor said Tuesday.

Two key programs, the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance and Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation, lapsed on Saturday after President Donald Trump failed to sign the $900 billion COVID-19 relief package that included extensions for the programs.

Trump signed the bill on Sunday.

Lawmakers said the delay would cause millions to lose out on payments.

“If Donald Trump does not sign the relief bill by the end of the day he will deny billions of dollars in support to some of the neediest people in this country during the holidays season,” Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.) said in a statement over the weekend.

“The President’s pointless delay in approving this relief legislation cost millions of Americans a week’s worth of pandemic-related unemployment assistance that they desperately need,” added House Ways and Means Chairman Richard Neal (D-Mass.).

But the Department of Labor now says that doesn’t appear to be true.

Trump signed the government funding package extending the unemployment programs “without interruption, for eligible individuals,” a spokesperson told The Epoch Times in an emailed statement.

“As states are implementing these new provisions as quickly as possible, the Department does not anticipate that eligible claimants will miss a week of benefits due to the timing of the law’s enactment,” the spokesperson added.

The Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation provides up to 13 weeks of additional unemployment benefits to people who previously collected state or federal unemployment compensation but exhausted those benefits. The Pandemic Unemployment Assistance provides up to 39 weeks of unemployment benefits to people not eligible for regular unemployment compensation or extended benefits, including those who have exhausted all rights to such benefits.

The legislation also restored the $300 each week in extra payments.

A number of states have said people enrolled in the programs will not pass payments.

“There will NOT be a gap in payments, and you do NOT need to reapply,” the Rhode Island Department of Labor and Training said in a tweet.

Citing the Department of Labor, the New Jersey Department of Labor said claimants “will continue to receive benefits without a gap or lag.”

Officials in Washington state, Connecticut, Massachusetts, and California issued similar statements.

Although there will be no gap, the California Employment Development Department said it cannot implement the programs authorized by the law until officials receive guidelines from the Department of Labor. The department spokesperson told The Epoch Times that many of the core features of the programs generally remain unchanged, meaning most of the agency’s previously issued guidance will remain effective.

“The Department recognizes that new requirements, program overlap/coordination issues, and complex new programs (such as Mixed Earner Unemployment Compensation) will require revisions to previously issued guidance and more time for state implementation and reprogramming to occur. The Department is working expeditiously to help states understand and implement these new provisions as quickly as possible,” the spokesperson added.

Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) said in a statement he appreciated the Labor Department taking advantage of “available flexibilities,” adding: “Millions of jobless workers will be able to breathe a sigh of relief, knowing they will not lose a week’s worth of income. Now, Donald Trump’s needless delay in signing the relief bill still means unnecessary administrative headaches and late payments, but workers will not lose income.”