White House official says enhanced unemployment benefits to expire

2020-07-30 03:23:21 GMT2020-07-30 11:23:21(Beijing Time) Xinhua English

WASHINGTON, July 29 (Xinhua) -- The enhanced federal unemployment benefits that millions of Americans rely upon will formally expire on Friday as Republicans and Democrats remain far apart on the next COVID-19 relief bill, a senior White House official said on Wednesday.

Following a meeting with U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer, White House chief of staff Mark Meadows told reporters that "enhanced unemployment insurance provisions will expire," according to The Hill, a U.S. political website.

Meadows also said that Pelosi and Schumer have opposed the idea of moving a stand-alone short-term extension of the unemployment benefits to avoid the fiscal cliff, as proposed by some Republicans.

As part of the 2.2-trillion-U.S. dollar coronavirus relief bill passed in late March, Congress agreed to provide 600-dollar federal unemployment benefits per week on top of state unemployment benefits, which are set to expire at the end of July.

Senate Republicans have proposed slashing the federal unemployment benefits to 200 dollars through September, giving an unemployed worker about 70 percent of previous wages when combined with state benefits, while Democrats want to maintain the current level of benefits through January.

"We don't know why the Republicans come around here with a skinny bill that does nothing to address ... we're not accepting that," Pelosi told reporters on Wednesday after meeting with Trump administration officials.

While warning that a recent resurgence in COVID-19 cases are starting to weigh on U.S. economic recovery, Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell said that "there is a need for some additional fiscal support."

Many Americans that were laid off during the pandemic are going to need support "if they're going to be able to pay their bills to continue spending money to remain in their current rental house or apartment or house if they own it," Powell said Wednesday afternoon at a virtual press conference. Enditem