Republicans raise red flag over expanded unemployment benefits

CARES Act expanded benefits by $600 a week for up to 4 months

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The Republican leader of the House of Representatives on Tuesday said the GOP wants to address expanded unemployment benefits and the effects they have had on the willingness of employees to return to work.

During a press conference, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., said the GOP’s goals for another stimulus bill include making sure “we don’t have incentives for people not to work.”

“We have a number of states and communities out there where people are actually paid more to be off work than coming back to work,” McCarthy said. “We have a lot of small businesses that are being challenged to bring employees back. [We’re] looking at ways we can fix that as well.”

CORONAVIRUS RELIEF: WHAT'S THE MAX UNEMPLOYMENT BENEFIT UNDER THE CARES ACT

Under the CARES Act, eligible Americans who are out of work entirely or underemployed because of reasons related to coronavirus can receive an additional $600 a week for up to four months.

The maximum amount of unemployment individuals can receive each week varies from state to state. In New York, where the virus has taken a big toll on residents, the maximum benefit is $504, so the max payment is $1,104 under the new program.

In New Jersey, the maximum payment with the extra $600 is $1,313, and it is $1,390 in Washington state.

For many restaurant workers, the federal payment means they could make more not working. The average restaurant worker earns around $500 a week.

It’s also a problem for restaurants applying for relief through the Paycheck Protection Program, which broadly requires businesses to retain staffing levels in order to have the loan forgiven.

CORONAVIRUS UNEMPLOYMENT BUMP PUTS STRUGGLING RESTAURANTS IN TOUGH SPOT

The policy, which Democrats are looking to extend, has already become a source of contention as lawmakers look at potentially passing another stimulus package.

Democratic Rhode Island Sen. Jack Reed announced new legislation Monday to extend the bump in benefits, which are scheduled to expire on July 31, through the end of the year.

More than 36 million Americans have filed unemployment claims since mid-March.

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President Trump, however, is reportedly siding with his Republican colleagues. The Washington Post reported Tuesday that during a private meeting with Republican lawmakers, he expressed opposition to the extension. He stopped short of saying that he would not sign another relief bill if it contains the measure.

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