WASHINGTON— Today, Senate Republicans released a COVID-19 relief plan will significantly reduce unemployment benefits from the current benefit of an extra $600 per week to $200 per week. The Pandemic Unemployment Assistance first passed in the CARES Act in March expires this week on Friday, July 31. In May, the House of Representatives passed the Heroes Act which would extend the $600 jobless benefit through the end of January. In response, Rep. Raúl M. Grijalva issued the following statement:
“Expanded unemployment benefits have helped thousands of Arizona’s working families remain afloat during this unprecedented time. The program has been a lifeline to unemployed workers who’ve been able to stay safely at home to mitigate the spread of the virus while still maintaining the capability to pay their bills and put food on the table for their families. House Democrats saw the value, and that’s why we extended the program through January. Unemployment benefits also breathe air into our faltering economy as they provide purchasing power to be used in struggling businesses.
“Republicans have spent months railing against these benefits, deriding them as free money and handouts while insinuating they are too generous to those who have lost their jobs due to the pandemic. They neglected the severity of the virus for months, allowed the Heroes Act to languish in limbo in the Republican-controlled Senate, and are now scrambling to come up with a lackluster solution to a problem their inaction created.
“A solution already exists in the Heroes Act. It’s time for the Senate to stop playing politics with the livelihoods of American families and pass a bill that will keep the current unemployment benefit in place and expand it for the rest of the year.”