Jones favors federal government extending $600 per week unemployment benefit
U.S. Senator Doug Jones (D-AL) on Friday expressed his desire to extend the extra $600 the U.S. government is currently adding to the compensation received by Americans on unemployment.
“Unemployment benefits need to be extended. I would favor the 600 but what I really would favor is something that can pass Congress,” said Jones in response to a question about the issue during a Facebook Live press conference.
The federal government first offered the extra $600 in unemployment money to Americans as part of the CARES Act passed by Congress in March that aimed to soften the economic blow the coronavirus pandemic would inflict on the American economy.
The $600 comes in addition to any state-offered unemployment insurance, which in Alabama is up to $265 per week.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) announced on Thursday that his caucus has a framework for what they are calling CARES 2. McConnell said the public will see the contents of the package “early next week.”
“I understand there is some discussions from Senator McConnell … but again I haven’t seen it. Here we are at the end of July and we haven’t seen that package. They’re still discussing it behind closed doors,” Jones commented on Friday.
“I think that quite frankly that is unconscionable. We knew this day was coming,” said Jones, expressing frustration with Republican leadership in Congress’ upper chamber.
“I am concerned the unemployment benefits are going to get even worse,” warned Jones, saying that the Paycheck Protection Program that incentivized companies to keep employees on the books is about to expire and businesses will not be able to keep them employed “because the virus is still raging.”
Conservative colleagues of Jones in the Senate, such as Senator Ron Johnson (R-WI), have expressed misgivings about another package of massive government spending.
A study written about by data analysis website FiveThirtyEight has shown that the median American worker currently getting an unemployment check is receiving 134% of their previous salary.
Jones further elaborated on Friday that the economists and Federal Reserve directors with whom he has spoken “believe the unemployment benefits need to be extended in one form or another,” an indication that Alabama’s junior senator is open to negotiating the total amount of the extra unemployment benefit.