Bill Introduced to Extend $600 Unemployment Compensation

Since we’re on the topic of stimulus proposals, I wanted to let you know about another proposal made by House Democrats, it’s called the Strengthening UI [that’s Unemployment Insurance] for Coronavirus Impacted Workers and Students Act.

Among other things, this one proposes to extend and expand the FPUC, which is the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation part of the CARES Act, that is the extra $600 per week for those on unemployment, which is currently set to expire at the end of July.

I’m going to tell you all the details of this proposal, but first, I’m going to be honest with you.

Based on the circumstances we’re experiencing right now on May 5, 2020, with some states partially reopening, states putting together more plans to reopen, businesses calling their employees back to work, making them therefore ineligible for unemployment anymore, in light of this environment, I don’t think Republicans are going to sign off on a bill proposing expanding unemployment benefits.

I mean if they were willing to do that, I think they might be more willing to go with Josh Hawley’s proposal which basically has the feds covering up to 80% of workers’ wages up to the median, but of course that would be incredibly expensive as well.

But anything can happen, if the virus situation becomes significantly worse, anything’s fair game, even the Emergency Money for the People Act.

But just given the current environment with states reopening, some people going back to work, and Trump being all about payroll tax cuts to get people back to work — I know not every Republican is on board with him — but still the general orientation of the Republican party right now, which controls the presidency as well as the Senate, is that they want to get people back to work.

And if you saw Trump’s tweet a few hours ago, what was he talking about? Eliminating sanctuary cities, payroll taxes which I’ve mentioned in my previous videos, perhaps capital gains taxes, the lawsuit indemnification that I told you McConnell was calling for, and looks like maybe an expanded meals and entertainment deduction, because that deduction was weakened, by the Tax Cuts & Jobs Act, and obviously if the entertainment venues, the Staples Center or whatever for the Lakers games, are closed and all the employees are collecting unemployment, this wouldn’t be possible, right, so what’s on Trump’s mind right now is like the furthest thing from increased unemployment benefits, so please just know that.

So this bill expanding the unemployment insurance aspects of the CARES Act is obviously not in alignment with Trump’s agenda right now, but I just want you to know about this bill so if you hear other people talking about it or other YouTubers talking about it, you know what it is, and you know that it probably has a small chance of passing because it’s pretty much opposed to Republican goals at this point.

And in general, it’s just good to be informed, that’s my perspective on things.

So what is this bill? Like I said, they’re calling it the Strengthening UI or Coronavirus Impacted Workers and Students Act.

And by the way, if we’re using Meet Kevin’s metrics, this bill actually has 53 cosponsors, which is more than the Emergency Money for the People Act. I mean, the number of cosponsors a bill has doesn’t mean much if the bill itself is misaligned with the president’s goals and the party controlling the Senate, right, anyway.

But anyway, this bill was proposed by Representative Dan Kildee of Michigan in the House and introduced by Senator Jack Reed of Rhode Island in the Senate, this bill would extend the FPUC, the extra $600 a week for those on unemployment — which currently under the CARES Act only runs through July 31 — this bill would extend that to December 31, and if you’re in the middle of your unemployment benefits, including the extra 13 weeks given by the CARES Act, on December 31, you can finish receiving your full benefits, even after December 31, 2020, but on or before June 30, 2021.

They’re calling that last bit a “soft cutoff.” There is no soft cutoff right now under the CARES Act, the $600 a week stops, cold turkey, on July 31, even if you only got it for a week and you’re still unemployed in August, right.

Also, this bill would make the extra $600 retroactive back to March 13, the date the President declared a national emergency, right now, as things are now, the earliest it could be retroactive to is March 29.

It would make it law that those in short-term compensation or work-sharing programs would be eligible for the $600 weekly.

And it would create a $300 per week federal benefit to individuals willing and able to work, who would probably be employed if COVID wasn’t happening, but they don’t have recent attachment to the labor force, right, because to be eligible for unemployment benefits, in general you would have to have had a recent attachment to the labor force i.e. you were working or had a bona fide job offer or something, right, but this bill would say, hey, if you’re willing and able to work but you can’t find work due to COVID, then even if you don’t have a recent attachment to the labor force, because maybe you were in school or something, you would get $300 a week.

Also, something else this bill proposes is to exempt unemployment benefits from income for means-tested programs.

What’s a means-tested program?  By “means” they basically mean your “income” and sometimes your “assets,” to see if you’re eligible for the program.

If your means are too high, you make a certain amount of money, then you aren’t eligible for that program.

An example is Medicaid. You can’t make more than a certain amount of money and still be eligible for Medicaid.

Now, under the CARES Act, unemployment benefits are not counted as income for determining Medicaid eligibility, nor for Children’s Health Insurance Program, or CHIP, eligibility.

However, things exist right now, unemployment benefits could affect the “means” calculation, could affect one’s eligibility for programs like Section 8 federally assisted housing, SNAP benefit, that’s food stamps, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, and the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children.

So what this bill would do is say that, for all of those means-tested programs, not just Medicaid and CHIP, for all of these means-tested programs, unemployment compensation would not be considered when determining eligibility, it would not be considered income, it would not be considered means, so basically it would mean that no one could lose their food stamps eligibility because the extra $600 a week put them over the income limit, for example.

So that’s the Strengthening UI for Coronavirus Impacted Workers and Students Act, like I said, probably has very little chance of getting through the Senate, or being signed by Trump if it does, but politics they make a lot of compromises, so maybe in the next relief bill we might see little bits and pieces from this proposal and from that proposal.

3 comments

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