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Louisiana’s US senators want to get people back to work, but say ending federal unemployment benefits not their decision to make

Updated: May. 11, 2021 at 10:48 PM CDT
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BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - U.S. Senators Bill Cassidy and John Kennedy are trying to figure out how to get more Americans back to work, and off unemployment benefits.

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At least 5 states, that includes Arkansas, Alabama, Mississippi, Montana, and South Carolina, will exit the federal unemployment benefits program by the end of June according to their governors, in order to help business owners, hire more staff.

But could Louisiana follow suit?

We’ve heard things like this, being said pretty frequently over the last couple of weeks.

“Trying to hire some worthwhile people to work for us, people that show up.”

“Business has increased and employment has decreased.”

And now, Louisiana senators up in D.C., seem to be on the same page.

“No question that our businesses, including and especially our small businesses need workers,” said Senator John Kennedy (R), Louisiana.

“Statistically, families do better when people work,” said Senator Bill Cassidy (R), Louisiana.

The two senators expressed their views on the extension of federal unemployment benefits as part of the American Rescue Plan. Which gives Americans an additional $300 a week, on top of state unemployment checks.

“There are some people that are still scared by the virus. I don’t blame them; the damn thing scares me too. That’s why I got vaccinated.... I do think the American people are not morons unlike some of my colleagues up here in Washington. And I think they make rational decisions. And I think if they can make more not working than working, many of them of them are going to choose to not work and stay at home with their kids,” said Sen. Kennedy.

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki says it’s ultimately up to the states to decide if they will continue with unemployment benefits.

“I think I just conveyed it’s up to the States. But again, we’re not seeing this as the root cause driver of people not seeking work. Of course, we’re going to see anecdotal examples. We certainly recognize that. But what we’re seeing across the board is that the cause is largely the pandemic and the impacts of the pandemic, whether that is people being concerned about their health and safety if they’re not vaccinated, childcare challenges, and that’s what we’re working to address,” said Psaki.

“I think the people who claim Americans won’t work even if they find a good and fair opportunity, underestimate the American people. So, we will insist that the law is followed, with respect to benefits. We are not going to turn our backs on our fellow Americans, said President Joe Biden.

Both senators believe that this specific issue, is not their decision to make.

“I think it’s up to the legislature and the governor, every state is different,” said Kennedy.

“So, if our governor and our legislature that this is a disincentive to work, and people can make just the same amount of money, if they actually go to work. Then they should pursue that path,” said Cassidy.

A spokesperson with Gov. Edwards’ office told WAFB, “We are not aware of any conversations about this in Louisiana.”

So, increased unemployment benefits are here to stay, for the time being.

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