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For Americans waiting on virus aid, no new relief in sight

For Americans waiting on virus aid, no new relief in sight
Posted at 7:58 PM, Aug 12, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-12 22:58:09-04

Americans counting on emergency coronavirus aid from Washington may have to wait until fall. Negotiations over a new coronavirus aid package have all but ended.

The White House and Congress are far apart on the size, scope and approach on relief for households, schools and a national strategy to contain the virus. President Donald Trump’s top negotiator, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, tried to revive stalled talks Wednesday. But House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer dismissed what they called an “overture,” saying the Trump administration is still refusing to meet them halfway.

Trump said Democrats are “holding the American people hostage.”

While the White House said they believe a compromise can be made on some issues, the two sides remain far apart on funding state and local governments. Many states and municipalities are struggling due to decreased revenues and increased costs amid the pandemic.

There is also disagreement among the parties, including Senate Republicans, on unemployment supplements as unemployment figures remain over 10%. From April into July, unemployed workers received an additional weekly $600 unemployment supplement on top of standard unemployment benefits. But many Republicans grumbled that the supplement gave incentive for workers to stay home amid the pandemic.

On Saturday, Trump announced the signing of an executive order, which in part would extend weekly unemployment supplements, but the order raised many questions. The supplement would provide $400 a week for unemployed Americans through the end of the year and would call on states to chip in 25%, but many cash-strapped states might not be able to provide the additional funds. There are also questions on how Trump can fund the order without Congressional approval.

Although there is grumbling over fears employees won't return to work, if an employer calls an employee back to work, they're no longer eligible for unemployment benefits.