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  • Writer's pictureBen Abrams

President Trump Stalls Unemployment Benefits For Millions Which Are Set To End On Saturday

December 26, 2020

President Donald Trump leaves millions of unemployed Americans hanging as he stalls on signing the end-of-year COVID relief and spending bill that had been negotiated before his objections.

President Donald Trump leaves millions of unemployed Americans hanging as he stalls on signing the end-of-year COVID relief

Trump is refusing to sign off on the relief package while demanding larger COVID relief checks in the amount of $2000 instead of the already approved bipartisan agreement of $600. His refusal to sign could also force a federal government shutdown when money runs out on Tuesday.The relief is also attached to a $1.4 trillion government funding bill to keep the federal government operating.

House Republicans quickly rejected Trump's request during a rare Christmas Eve session. But Trump has not been swayed.

“I simply want to get our great people $2000, rather than the measly $600 that is now in the bill,” Trump tweeted Saturday from Palm Beach, where he is spending the holiday. “Also, stop the billions of dollars in ‘pork.’”

President-elect Joe Biden called on Trump to sign the bill immediately as two federal programs providing unemployment aid were set to expire Saturday.

“It is the day after Christmas, and millions of families don’t know if they’ll be able to make ends meet because of President Donald Trump’s refusal to sign an economic relief bill approved by Congress with an overwhelming and bipartisan majority,” Biden said in a statement. He accused Trump of an “abdication of responsibility” that has “devastating consequences.”

That means over 10 million people could lose aid from the programs immediately without additional relief; millions more would exhaust other unemployment benefits within weeks.

How and when people are affected by the lapse depends on the state they live in, the program they are relying on and when they applied for benefits. In some states, people on regular unemployment insurance could continue to receive payments under a program that extends benefits when the jobless rate surpasses a certain threshold.

About 9.5 million people rely on the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program that expires altogether Saturday. That program made unemployment insurance available to freelancers, gig workers and others who are normally not eligible. After receiving their last checks, those recipients will not be able to file for more aid starting Monday, Stettner said.

While payments could be received retroactively, any gap means more hardship and uncertainty for Americans. The bill awaiting Trump’s signature would also activate a weekly $300 federal supplement to unemployment payments.

It doesn't stop there, Trump’s lack of action on the bill would lead to the expiration of eviction protections and put on hold a new round of relief funding for already struggling businesses such as, restaurants and theaters, in addition to vaccine distribution.

This story is still developing.

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