Biden admin won’t seek enhanced unemployment past Labor Day

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Biden admin won't seek enhanced unemployment past Labor Day

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen and Labor Secretary Marty Walsh announced on Thursday that the enhanced unemployment benefits put in place to help during the COVID-19 pandemic will expire on Sept. 6, with the administration stating that extra jobless benefits can be extended by the states. 

“The temporary $300 boost in benefits will expire on September 6th, as planned,” the two wrote in a letter to Senate Finance Committee Chairman Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and Ways and Means Chairman Richard Neal (D-Mass.).

“As President Biden has said, the boost was always intended to be temporary and it is appropriate for that benefit boost to expire.”

The ​​$300 increase to weekly unemployment benefits, in addition to the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program which provides assistance to contractors, and the Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation were extended in a sweeping $1.9 trillion stimulus bill passed in March. The officials touted the drop in unemployment numbers, but noted that states that are still struggling can use the bill’s funding allocated to continue the boost.

“In addition, President Biden believes that the conditions exist in many states such as the other emergency UI [unemployment insurance] programs can end on the date set in the American Rescue Plan,” Yellen and Walsh wrote.

“… There are some states where it may make sense for unemployed workers to continue receiving additional assistance for a longer period of time, allowing residents of those states more time to find a job in areas where unemployment remains high,” the said. 

Secretary of Labor Marty Walsh
Secretary of Labor Marty Walsh and Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen noted the pandemic revealed problems in unemployment.
REUTERS/Erin Scott/File Photo

When the benefits expire on Labor Day, around 7 million people are expected to lose their benefits and receive cuts to the aid they have been receiving. 

While progressives have pushed for the benefits to be extended beyond September, Republicans have pushed back on the notion, arguing it deters people from getting back to work.

Yellen and Walsh noted that Biden thinks the pandemic revealed “serious problems” with the unemployment process and feels it needs to be reformed. 

“Beyond the immediate issue of expiring benefits, President Biden believes that the pandemic has exposed serious problems in our UI system that require immediate reform. Accordingly, he is calling on Congress to take up the issue of long-term UI reform as part of the reconciliation process, when Congress returns from recess,” they wrote.

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