Congress stalls on whether or not to extend federal pandemic unemployment benefits

Congress stalls on whether or not to extend federal pandemic unemployment benefits

BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - Congress has stalled on extending unemployment benefits, which have been paying Louisianans who have been out of work due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Those people have been receiving up to $600 per week.

Time has basically run out for Congress to extend the CARES Act provision that formally expires Friday, July 31 according to CBS News.

“I expect a compromised version would be more likely this week,” said Congressman Garret Graves (R).

People who are out of work in Louisiana because of COVID-19 will no longer be able to get unemployment benefits of $600 a week for now.

“Everybody agrees that we at least need some type of temporary extension to give us more time to go through these negotiations. Like I said, I would support that. But for longer-term extension, we can’t look at unemployment in a vacuum, we have to look at these other things,” said Graves.

Earlier Thursday, workers unions and other groups decided to make their feelings known outside of the local offices of Senators Bill Cassidy and John Kennedy, in multiple ‘Save The 600’ rallies across the state.

“And without that $600. I can’t make up my back rent. And the kind of work I do, I can’t get a job,” said Agustin Gallegos, who’s about to lose his unemployment benefits.

People like Gallegos want Congress to save $600 in unemployment because he says many people are without jobs right now including himself.

“I trust that I’ll land on my feet. It’s sort of like, to the higher power,” Gallegos continued.

Governor John Bel Edwards believes more people across our state will be filing for unemployment during this crisis.

“First, emergency SNAP benefits have been approved. So in August, SNAP recipients will again receive the maximum benefit for their household size. Those not currently at the maximum benefit will receive a separate supplemental benefit to bring them to the maximum. Second, SNAP certifications for August have been extended until February 2021, and initial interviews for new SNAP applicants have been waived during the month of August,” said Edwards.

For more information about the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits, click here.

But still, the big debate is whether Congress will change the unemployment benefits from $600 a week, to $200 a week, or meet somewhere in the middle.

“If it is just for a week or so, I think folks would accept a short term extension of the existing amount. But if you start talking about longer periods of time, meaning two weeks or so, I think that the only way that would happen is if they did agree to do some type of reduction,” said Graves.

Tonight on 9News at 10, WAFB’s Lester Duhé has what you need to know and reaction from the country’s capital.

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