Unemployment benefits expire for millions as Trump rages
WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. (AP) - Unemployment benefits for millions of Americans struggling to make ends meet expired overnight when President Donald Trump refused to sign a year-end COVID relief and spending bill, which had been considered final before him sudden objections.
The fate of the bipartisan package remained in suspense on Sunday as Trump continued to call for major COVID relief controls and complained about "pork" spending. Without widespread funding from the massive move, the government would be shut down if the money ran out at 12:01 p.m. on Tuesday.
"It's a game of chess and we're farmers," said Lanetris Haines, a self-employed single mother of three in South Bend, Indiana, who would lose her $ 129 weekly unemployment benefit unless Trump legally or legally signed the package he managed to become unlikely to seek change.
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Washington has been wavering since Trump turned the deal on, after gaining full approval in both houses of Congress, and after the White House assured Republican leaders that Trump would support him.
Instead, he attacked the bill's plan to give most Americans $ 600 COVID relief checks - and insisted it should be $ 2,000. The Republicans of the House were quick to reject this idea during a rare Christmas Eve meeting. But Trump was not affected despite a pandemic ravaging the nation.
"I just want to bring in our great people $ 2,000 instead of the meager $ 600 that is now on the bill," Trump tweeted Saturday from Palm Beach, Florida, where he is spending the vacation. "Also stop the billion dollars in". Pork meat.'"
President-elect Joe Biden urged Trump to sign the bill immediately as the deadline for two federal unemployment assistance programs approached midnight on Saturday.
"It's a day after Christmas and millions of families don't know if they can make ends meet because President Donald Trump refuses to sign an overwhelming, bipartisan Congress-approved economic relief bill," Biden said in a statement. He accused Trump of a "waiver of responsibility" that has "devastating consequences".
"I've spoken to people who are scared of being evicted from their homes over the Christmas break, and it could still be if we don't sign that bill," said Rep. Debbie Dingell, a Michigan Democrat.
Lauren Bauer, an economics scholar at the Brookings Institution, has calculated that 11 million people would immediately lose aid from programs without additional relief. Millions more would deplete other unemployment benefits within weeks.
Andrew Stettner, unemployment insurance expert and senior fellow in the Century Foundation think tank, said the number could be closer to 14 million as unemployment has risen since Thanksgiving.
"All of these people and their families will suffer if Trump doesn't sign the damn bill," tweeted Heidi Shierholz, director of politics at the Liberal Economic Policy Institute, on Wednesday.
How and when people would be affected by the extinction depended on the state they lived in, the program they relied on, and when they applied for benefits. In some states, people with regular unemployment insurance would continue to receive payments under a program that extends benefits when the unemployment rate exceeds a certain threshold, Stettner said.
However, approximately 9.5 million people had relied on the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program, which all expired on Saturday. This program provided unemployment insurance to freelancers, gig workers, and others who were normally ineligible. After receiving their final checks, these recipients could not apply for any further help, said Stettner.
While payments could come in retrospectively, any loophole would mean more hardship and uncertainty for Americans already grappling with bureaucratic delays, often using up much of their savings to stay afloat while they wait for payments to occur.
It was people like Earl McCarthy, a father of four who lives in South Fulton, Georgia and has been in need of unemployment since he lost his job as a salesman for a luxury senior citizens' community. He said he would be out of income by the second week of January if Trump refused to sign the bill.
McCarthy said he had already used up much of his savings while waiting five months to receive about $ 350 a week in unemployment benefits.
"The whole experience was terrible," said McCarthy. "I shudder at the thought, if we hadn't saved anything or had an emergency fund in these five months, where would we have been?"
He added, "It will be difficult if the president doesn't sign this bill."
The bill, awaiting Trump's signature in Florida, would also activate a weekly unemployment benefit surcharge of $ 300.
Sharon Shelton Corpening had hoped the extra help would enable her 83-year-old mother, who she lives with, to stop using her Social Security contributions in order to earn her $ 1,138 rent.
Corpening, who lives in the Atlanta area, had started a freelance content strategy business that kicked off right before the pandemic broke out and that resulted in the failure of several of their contracts. She was paid about $ 125 a week as part of the pandemic unemployment program and said she couldn't pay her bills in about a month. This despite her temporary work for the US census and as an election worker.
"We're on the sidelines," said Corpening, who campaigns for the unemployment campaign, a project launched by the Center for People's Democracy to fight for aid. “Another month if that is the case. Then I run out of everything. "
In addition to unemployment benefits that have already expired, Trump's ongoing refusal to sign the bill would result in eviction protection expiring and a new round of subsidies for hard-hit businesses, restaurants, and theaters, as well as putting money on hold for lack of money transit systems and distribution Vaccines.
The relief was also tied to a $ 1.4 trillion government funding bill to keep the federal government running through September, which would mean failing to sign by midnight Tuesday would trigger a federal shutdown.
Olson reported from New York.
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