Millions will lose jobless benefits in days as Covid relief bill hangs in limbo

  • The fate of a $900 billion Covid relief bill is unclear after President Donald Trump called it a "disgrace" this week.
  • The bill would extend two unemployment programs, which are scheduled to expire this weekend, by 11 weeks. Around 14 million people are enrolled in these programs.
  • Any delay in signing the legislation will be costly for workers. A gap in benefits is inevitable for many of them, according to state labor officials.

Millions of unemployed Americans will lose their unemployment benefits in days as the fate of a $900 billion Covid relief package hangs in limbo.

The relief bill, passed by Congress on Monday, offers 11 extra weeks of benefits to workers in two programs set to expire this weekend.

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Created by the CARES Act in March, the programs — Pandemic Unemployment Assistance and Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation — issued jobless aid to self-employed and gig workers and paid additional benefits to workers who exhausted their typical six-month allotment, respectively.

About 14 million people — two-thirds of all jobless-aid recipients — are receiving income support through the lapsing programs. The vast majority won't have access to any other benefits at that point.

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Benefits 'cliff' is inevitable

President Donald Trump called the relief bill a "disgrace" on Tuesday, throwing his signature into question. Trump called for $2,000 stimulus checks for individuals, more than the current $600, a policy House Republicans rejected Thursday.

Even if the president signs the law before the weekend benefits "cliff," a gap of at least a week is inevitable for millions, according to state labor officials.

"There will be a delay in benefits for those currently enrolled in federal PUA and PEUC benefit programs," Jason Moon, a spokesman for the Michigan Unemployment Insurance Agency, said in reference to the expiring programs. "This will only be a disruption and claimants will be made whole once the extensions are fully implemented."

The loss of aid will immediately push about 5 million workers into poverty, according to a Columbia University study.

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