Memo Warns GOP Unemployment Benefit Formula Would Take Months to Implement

Daniel Fowler
July 28, 2020

GOP leaders previously said they wanted their proposal to serve as a starting point in discussions with Democrats that could pass both the House and the Senate.

While giving short shrift to workers, the Republican package would ensure that corporations are not held accountable for putting their employees in danger by providing a sweeping five-year liability shield geared toward protecting businesses from coronavirus-related lawsuits-a top priority of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

While the CARES Act gave $600 per week to unemployed workers, the new bill would reduce unemployment benefits to $200 per week.

So why do Democrats want to continue the $600 federal weekly top-up?

Senate Republicans have struggled for days to hammer out internal differences in crafting their long-anticipated COVID-19 economic relief plan, which they released Monday afternoon as several separate individual bills.

The Republican plan provides a new round of stimulus checks to many adults and $500 per dependent, regardless of age.

Democrats, who've proposed a $3.5 trillion virus relief package, are eager to exploit those divisions.

Couple wearing swastika masks at U.S. store confronted by other shoppers
She explains, a little louder to be heard over the small crowd gathering around her, that she's "not a Nazi". Well, they got schooled plenty, as shoppers tore into them, calling them un-American.

The GOP plan also includes $100 billion for schools to either reopen or adapt to online instruction; a sequel to the popular Paycheck Protection Program targeting more vulnerable small businesses; and new tax incentives to encourage employers to bring employees back to work.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, a House Republican until a few months ago, are expected to meet with Schumer and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi in her office on Monday evening.

Republicans had plans to introduce a proposal last week, but hit delays because of fractures within their ranks. "That's just a fact", he said.

"The American people need more help, they need it to be comprehensive, and they need it to be carefully tailored to this crossroads", McConnell said as he rolled out the GOP package.

The bill includes money to design and build a new Washington, D.C. headquarters for the Federal Bureau of Investigation - a project that has been debated for years and something President Trump said last week was needed because the existing building, located across the street from one of his family's hotels, is in disrepair.

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) on Sunday predicted that half of the Senate Republican majority would oppose a final bipartisan agreement, essentially undercutting McConnell in the negotiations and giving Senate Democrats new leverage since their votes will be critical for passage. "But are they willing to take nothing, then, if Republicans refuse to move their way, and if it means millions of constituents will suffer?"

"We've got an agreement in principle", Meadows told reporters late Sunday, saying that staff was still putting the "finishing touches" on the proposal. More than 147,000 of those deaths are in the United States. On the jobless benefits, Republicans have argued that federal jobless benefits should be trimmed because the combination of state and federal unemployment assistance left many people better off financially than they were before the pandemic and therefore disinclined to return to their jobs. "Is it?" McConnell said during a press conference when asked why the Federal Bureau of Investigation funds are in the bill.

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