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Extra $600 unemployment benefit could get short-term extension before bigger stimulus bill passes

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The tens of millions of Americans currently receiving unemployment benefits are likely to see their $600 per week federal unemployment benefits lapse if Congress doesn’t pass an extension this week.

An extension—or a replacement of the benefit with something else—is currently being discussed in the House and Senate as part of a bigger coronavirus stimulus bill. However, Democratic and Republican party leaders said yesterday a stimulus bill is unlikely to pass until August.

To prevent a lapse in benefits while the bigger stimulus bill debate ensues, the White House and Senate Republican leaders suggested Wednesday that a short-term extension of the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance be passed this week, according to Bloomberg News. It’s unclear if a short-term extension would be of the full $600 weekly benefit, or what period it would cover.

Democratic leaders have already showed resistance to the idea of a short-term extension of the $600 unemployment benefit. House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer said he’d rather see a bigger stimulus deal made than a short-term fix.

The CARES Act, which passed in March, set aside an additional $600 per week in unemployment insurance for jobless Americans on top of their state benefits. However, the money from the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance goes through only the week ending Saturday, July 25.

A more comprehensive stimulus bill is being debated in Congress. But disagreements on issues such as state and local government funding (favored by Democrats), and COVID-19 lawsuit immunity for businesses and schools (favored by Republicans), are holding up its passage.

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