clearn.png
Saturday December 5th, 2020 6:58AM

GOP weighs jobless aid cuts to urge Americans back to work

By The Associated Press
Related Articles
  Contact Editor

WASHINGTON (AP) — Reconsideration of jobless aid is fast becoming the focus of congressional debate over the next virus aid package

After the Senate decided to take a “pause” on new pandemic proposals, senators faced mounting pressure to act before leaving town for a weeklong Memorial Day break. Republicans are staking out plans to phase out coronavirus-related unemployment benefits to encourage Americans to go back to work.. The Senate also began efforts to fast-track an extension of a popular small business lending program.

“Republicans and the White House are reaching consensus on the need for redesigning the unemployment benefits so they are not a barrier to getting people back to work,” Rep. Kevin Brady of Texas, the top Republican on the House Ways and Means Committee, told reporters on a conference call. President Donald Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell huddled at the White House to discuss the issues.

The flurry of activity comes after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi pushed a new $3 trillion aid package through the House last week. The Senate, under McConnell, says there is no urgency to act, and senators are expected to reconsider more aid only in June.

With the nation's death toll poised to hit 100,000 and layoffs surpassing 38 million, some lawmakers see a failure by Washington to act as untenable. Yet Congress has moved beyond the political consensus reached at the outset of the crisis and is now splitting along familiar party lines.

The difference in approach and priorities between Democrats and Republicans reflects the partisan split that is defining both parties before the 2020 election.

At least one Republican, Sen. Cory Gardner of Colorado, was trying to prevent the Senate from recessing unless it considered more aid. No votes, however, were taken.

“Now is not the time for the Senate to go home,” tweeted Gardner, who is among the most politically endangered GOP senators running for reelection in the fall.

Gardner wanted agreement to extend the small business Paycheck Protection Program and pushed for more funds for state and local governments facing layoffs. He told reporters he had called Trump to express his concerns.

As a result, senators were trying to fast-track a proposal to extend the Paycheck Protection Program's expiration. The proposed fix would double from eight to 16 weeks the window for business owners absorbing losses because of the COVID-19 pandemic to spend their federally backed loans and still qualify to have them forgiven. The program was established in March under an earlier coronavirus response bill.

While the House works remotely, the lights-on Senate has the legislative stage to itself. But the chamber that considers itself the world's greatest deliberative body spent May debating almost anything but the pandemic. It confirmed several of Trump's executive and judicial nominees, including John Ratcliffe on Thursday as director of national intelligence.

“You wouldn’t even know there’s a COVID crisis,” Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer of New York told ABC’s “The View.” “Crazy. It’s just so wrong.”

McConnell argued that his side of the Capitol led passage of the earlier $2 trillion package. Better to assess how that money is being spent, he said, before approving more. He rejects the new $3 trillion package approved by the Democratic-led House last week as a “liberal wish list.”

On Thursday, McConnell mocked the House for working remotely and voting by proxy while senators in masks show up like other Americans returning to work. The District of Columbia remains under stay-home orders through June 8.

“The self-described ‘People’s House’ has been suspiciously empty of people,” McConnell said. “Every one of my Senate colleagues should be proud of how we’ve helped our nation win this first battle."

Pelosi shot back: “We have the Heroes bill,” she said about the House-passed aid measure. "He has the zeroes bill.”

Unemployment insurance, though, was quickly becoming a new priority for Republicans staking out the next aid package.

Brady warned that generous benefits, with a $600 weekly boost during the pandemic approved under the earlier aid bill, would “handcuff” workers and discourage them from returning to work.

Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., said, “It was a mistake to make it so high to begin with. It would be a mistake to extend it."

Republicans are hopeful that as states reopen, the economy will improve, lessening the need for more federal funds. But if workers refuse to return to work, they worry companies can't begin to rebound.

Brady proposes giving workers a one-time $1,200 bonus to get back to work. He said conversations were happening at the highest levels at the White House.

But polling shows Americans are concerned about a second wave of the virus as shops and workplaces reopen. A poll by The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research found 83% of Americans are at least somewhat concerned that lifting restrictions in their area will lead to additional infections, with 54% saying they are very or extremely concerned.

___

Associated Press writers Alan Fram, Mary Clare Jalonick and Andrew Taylor contributed to this report.

  • Associated Categories: Associated Press (AP), AP National News, AP Online National News, Top General short headlines, AP Online Headlines - Washington, AP Online Congress News, AP Business, AP Business - Economy
© Copyright 2020 AccessWDUN.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
Coronavirus-triggered layoffs in US hit nearly 39 million
The U.S. government says the number of Americans out of work since the coronavirus crisis struck two months ago has climbed to nearly 39 million
6:02PM ( 6 minutes ago )
GOP weighs jobless aid cuts to urge Americans back to work
President Donald Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell huddled at the White House to consider next steps in coronavirus aid
5:59PM ( 9 minutes ago )
Nation's capital aims to start reopening May 29
 Washington Mayor Muriel Bowser says the numbers are pointing to the start of a gradual reopening process in Washington, D
5:56PM ( 12 minutes ago )
Associated Press (AP)
GOP rising star John James faces trouble at top of ticket
Michigan Senate candidate John James has been called a rising star of the Republican Party so many times it’s become a cliche, but his race against Sen. Gary Peters in a presidential battleground state has gotten dicier
5:25PM ( 43 minutes ago )
The Latest: Whitmer wins legal fight with lawmakers
Gov. Gretchen Whitmer prevailed in a high-stakes challenge from Republican lawmakers who sued over her authority to declare emergencies and order sweeping restrictions during the coronavirus outbreak
5:08PM ( 1 hour ago )
Divided Senate confirms Ratcliffe as intelligence chief
A sharply divided Senate has confirmed John Ratcliffe as director of national intelligence
4:53PM ( 1 hour ago )
AP Online Headlines - Washington
AP-NORC poll: State and U.S. government virus approval dips
Views of how government at all levels is handling the coronavirus outbreak in the U.S. have deteriorated somewhat over the past month, as a growing minority of Americans prefer that states lift restrictions on social and economic life
2:20PM ( 3 hours ago )
AP-NORC poll: Trump approval remains steady during pandemic
Americans’ views on the federal and state government handling of the coronavirus crisis are starting to sour — yet President Donald Trump’s personal approval rating has remained steady
2:06PM ( 4 hours ago )
Trump, McConnell meet as Senate declines to debate virus aid
The Senate is doing almost anything except debating the coronavirus
1:21PM ( 4 hours ago )
AP Online Congress News
Pandemic highlights big box stores' ability to pivot
Big box stores like Best Buy,Target, Walmart and others have been able to capitalize on their digital expertise and stay relevant during the pandemic
5:04PM ( 1 hour ago )
Virus cases spike in California county on Mexican border
As much of California reopens for business amid easing coronavirus conditions, a farming region bordering Mexico is struggling with a spike of cases
5:03PM ( 1 hour ago )
Tech giants are embracing remote work. Others may follow
For a preview of the future of office work, watch how the biggest tech companies are preparing for a post-pandemic world
4:56PM ( 1 hour ago )
AP Business
Fed's Powell says economic forecasts filled with uncertainty
Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell says efforts to forecast the recovery path of the U_S_ economy out of the current deep downturn face “a whole new level of uncertainty.”
3:43PM ( 2 hours ago )
US stock indexes turn lower amid grim news on the economy
Stocks are down in afternoon trading on Wall Street Thursday as the market gives back some of its gains from a day earlier
3:11PM ( 2 hours ago )
Homebuilders climb even as housing outlook remains cloudy
The U.S. economy and housing market had set homebuilders up for a strong 2020
2:01PM ( 4 hours ago )
AP Business - Economy
Coronavirus-triggered layoffs in US hit nearly 39 million
The U.S. government says the number of Americans out of work since the coronavirus crisis struck two months ago has climbed to nearly 39 million
6:02PM ( 6 minutes ago )
Nation's capital aims to start reopening May 29
 Washington Mayor Muriel Bowser says the numbers are pointing to the start of a gradual reopening process in Washington, D
5:56PM ( 12 minutes ago )
'Hundreds of millions' in fraudulent jobless benefits paid
Impostors have used the stolen information of tens of thousands of people in Washington state to receive hundreds of millions of dollars in unemployment benefits
5:50PM ( 18 minutes ago )
FBI says Texas naval base shooting is 'terrorism-related'
The FBI says a shooting at a Texas naval air station that wounded a sailor and left the gunman dead is being investigated as “terrorism-related.”
5:49PM ( 18 minutes ago )
In reversal, White House tells CDC to post church guidance
After refusing for weeks to release reopening guidance for churches, the Trump administration on Thursday abruptly changed course — with the president saying he had instructed health officials to put the advice out
5:45PM ( 23 minutes ago )