What is the White House saying today about the extensión of unemployment benefits?

Though the President and Republicans have openly said for weeks that they did not agree with extending the unemployment benefits that end on July 31st, as the deadline draws closer, there seems to be a change of attitude.

For months, the US President and White House officials have argued the $600-per-week unemployment bonus should end so that more Americans return to work as part of the economic recovery. They claimed the money collected for unemployment benefits was, in many cases, higher than the income those people earned before the pandemic, and that it did not incentivize going back to work.

But with the benefits soon to expire, and many economists warning that the end of this enormous federal stimulus could interfere with the economic recovery and deprive millions of Americans of a vital financial lifeline, Trump administration officials have begun to show openness to a narrower version of what Congress previously approved. 

Some versions say that one potential compromise discussed by Republican lawmakers would involve cutting the unemployment benefit from $600 per week to between $200 and $400 per week and making up at least part of the difference by sending another round of $1,200 stimulus payments

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said on CNBC last week that the administration’s priority was ensuring that future benefits amount to “no more” than 100 percent of a worker’s prior wages.

Larry Kudlow, the president’s top economic adviser, who had previously bashed the $600-per-week increase, told Fox Business on Monday that the administration is seeking “some unemployment reforms.” The “return to work” bonus that he supported, that could supplement a reduction in unemployment benefits has been viewed as administratively difficult to implement. 

On Monday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said the next package would include “unemployment insurance for those unable to get back to work,” though did not say how much aid would be necessary.

Republicans have discussed the issue internally but have not reached a decisión yet, and there are no serious bipartisan discussions underway to resolve the deadlock. The Senate comes back in session on July 20, five days before the enhanced unemployment benefit expires in 49 states and lawmakers will have little time to resolve the different positions. 

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