Jobless Americans who risked not
receiving unemployment aid this week due to President Donald Trump’s delay in
signing off on it will indeed receive the money, the Labor Department said on
Congress in March expanded the US unemployment safety net as the
coronavirus pandemic struck, creating the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance
(PUA) for freelancers and Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC)
for the long-term unemployed but only funding them until the end of the year.
After months of stuttering negotiations, Congress agreed to reauthorize
those programs in a $900 billion spending package passed only days before
their December 26 expiration, but Trump objected to its contents before
eventually signing it on Sunday — one day after those programs lapsed.
Because many states determine benefit payments for the week ahead on
Sunday morning, experts feared Trump’s evening signing of the bill could mean
benefits under the two programs wouldn’t be paid this week.
In a statement to AFP, a Labor Department spokesperson said it would
work with individual states to make sure payments under the programs, which
were reauthorized until March 14, continue uninterrupted.
“As states are implementing these new provisions as quickly as possible,
the department does not anticipate that eligible claimants will miss a week
of benefits due to the timing of the law’s enactment,” the spokesperson said.
An interruption in weekly jobless payments would have increased the
pressure on Americans put out of work by the world’s largest Covid-19
The United States saw unemployment spike to 14.7 percent in April after
business shutdowns were ordered to stop the virus from spreading.
Though it decreased to 6.7 percent in November, Labor Department data
released last week said more than 800,000 people on average are losing their
jobs each week, a level above the worst single week of the 2008-2010 global
As of the week ended December 5, the Labor Department said more than 9.2
million people were receiving PUA benefits and more than 4.8 million were
– Stimulus payments –
Meanwhile, American workers could start seeing stimulus payments of as
much as $600 in their accounts as soon as Tuesday night, Treasury Secretary
Steven Mnuchin said.
“Treasury and the IRS are working with unprecedented speed to issue a
second round of Economic Impact Payments to eligible Americans and their
families,” Mnuchin said.
“These payments are an integral part of our commitment to providing
vital additional economic relief to the American people during this
On Twitter, he added that for those not receiving electronic payment,
“paper checks will begin to be mailed tomorrow.”
The stimulus bill set aside $166 billion to provide cash for families to
help weather the pandemic, but Trump blasted the amount and demanded it be
increased to $2,000.
Democrats agreed, and the House of Representatives approved a bill to do
that, but Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell blocked the
measure, refusing to allow a vote.
“Unless Republicans have a death wish, and it is also the right thing to
do, they must approve the $2000 payments ASAP,” Trump said. “$600 IS NOT