Trump administration opposes extension of additional weekly $600 unemployment benefits, as unemployment remains high during COVID-19 pandemic

Sen. Bill Cassidy, R-La., left, elbow bumps Labor Secretary Eugene Scalia before a Senate Finance Committee hearing on “COVID-19/Unemployment Insurance” on Capitol Hill in Washington on Tuesday, June 9, 2020.

Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call/Pool via AP

US Labor Secretary Eugene Scalia said Tuesday that he opposes extending an emergency $600 weekly payment to unemployed Americans.

The benefits are set to expire on July 31.

In May, House Democrats passed a $3 trillion stimulus measure that would extend the payments through January 2021.

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The Trump administration opposes a Democratic effort to extend weekly $600 payments to unemployed Americans, a US official said Tuesday, arguing that continuing the program would discourage people from returning to work.

In May, House Democrats approved a $3 trillion stimulus measured that would extend the additional payments to January 2021. They are currently set to expire July 31.

Testifying before the Senate Finance Committee, US Labor Secretary Euge Scalia said lawmakers should instead allow the emergency payments to expire at the end of next month.

“That recognizes we’ll be in a very different place in July where the opportunity for people to return to work will be far greater,” Scalia said, per The Wall Street Journal.

Son of the late conservative Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, Eugene Scalia argued that a recent jobs report showing unemployment at 13.3% was an indication that public assistance could now be pared back.

Over 30 million Americans have filed unemployment claims. By this summer, however, “we expect the economy to be deep into the process of reopening,” Scalia testified, according to the Associated Press, “with shutdown orders ended and millions of Americans freed to return to work.”

Chad Stone, the chief economist at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, a liberal think tank, argues that aid should be tied to economic benchmarks, not an arbitrary deadline.

“While the economy may be starting to recover from the depths of the recession in the second half of this year, jobs and employers that existed when the layoffs began may no longer exist,” Stone wrote this week.

Story continues

The Congressional Budget Office projects that unemployment will remain in the double digits through the rest of this year.

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