Lawmakers split over next coronavirus relief bill as boosted unemployment expiration looms

Lawmakers considering second stimulus package as federal unemployment benefits set to expire at end of July

BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - With those boosted unemployment benefits set to expire at the end of July, Congress is back in Washington hammering out a deal on yet another economic relief plan.

"I think there's a very good chance that we will be providing additional assistance to those that are impacted," said Rep. Garret Graves.

Graves says chances are many folks will get a second stimulus check in the mail, but he warns it’s possible not everyone who got one the first time will get one this time. He believes it’s more important to focus on those who need it most.

“I don’t think we should cut a generic stimulus check, Scottie, to everybody. I think we need to be looking at how do we focus the limited resources that we have on the people that most need it,” said Graves.

Graves tells WAFB there could be a few options on the table for lawmakers, including an extension of those extra unemployment benefits, a modified payment protection program, or another stimulus check. They’re also considering money for schools to safely reopen, but Republicans and Democrats remain split on exactly how to move ahead.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer pointed out some of the challenges to reporters Tuesday, July 21.

“It’s hard to negotiate when the president says one thing, Senate Republicans say another, and many of them are divided,” said Schumer.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell was a little more reserved in his criticism of the process.

“There are some differences of opinion,” McConnell added.

Graves says unfortunately, divided is the name of the game these days as he believes too many lawmakers on both sides are letting politics creep in.

”The greatest challenge is that our constitutional republic has been hijacked by partisan politics and that is the biggest obstacle to doing anything that actually makes sense,” he said.

The congressman says leaders have to start looking long-term and finding ways to move past the pandemic financially. While he’s confident help is on the way, unfortunately for those suffering, Graves predicts it may come down to the wire.

”Unfortunately, up here, as you know, you often see things happen as we’re right up against the buzzer and I think that you’re likely going to see that happen here as well, if not even after the unemployment benefits expire,” he added.

Boosted unemployment benefits are set to expire at the end of July. Even if lawmakers reach a deal soon, there could be a gap in some of those benefits.

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