While there’s no end in sight to the coronavirus pandemic, there’s a very clear end for the pandemic relief unemployment payments that have been keeping some 50 million Americans afloat these past four months.
That’s ending this week.
The $600-per-week payments, which were included as part of March’s coronavirus aid package, were meant to keep food on the table and roofs over the heads of Americans suffering from COVID-19 job losses. And back in March—when President Trump was still insisting we would reopen the economy on Easter with “churches full” of people—the program was assigned an expiration date of July 31.
Now as that date nears—with cases surging into record territory and states receding into lockdown phases—many Americans are still jobless and struggling to pay bills.
With this in mind, citizens on social media are calling to extend the extra jobless benefits. On Twitter, the movement is trending under the hashtag #Savethe600, which is being used by policy groups, nonprofit organizations, and members of Congress.
The facts are clear:
• There are 14.7 million fewer jobs compared to February. People can't be incentivized to get jobs that aren’t there.
• Cutting off the $600 would cause a drop in consumer spending that would cost 5.1 million more jobs alone.
— Economic Policy Institute (@EconomicPolicy) July 20, 2020
There is no economy without us. With millions of jobs permanently lost, and it still being too unsafe to send people back to work, the CARES Act’s emergency unemployment benefits boost is saving lives. Congress must #ExtendUI. #WeAreTheEconomy pic.twitter.com/rBoev9P9wW
— MoveOn (@MoveOn) July 22, 2020
The #coronavirus pandemic has not gone away and neither has widespread unemployment. Emergency U/I is helping families keep a roof over their heads, the lights turned on, & food on the table. Taking that away would be a disaster for working families. #ExtendUI #SaveThe600 pic.twitter.com/xyU0gQ5acg
— Rep. Linda Sánchez (@RepLindaSanchez) July 22, 2020
Public support to #ExtendUI is broad and overwhelming. But the Senate still won't act. Struggling workers & families need support now and more than ever. Congress must #Savethe600 pic.twitter.com/7AyR7Ba1GO
— Rep. Richard Neal (@RepRichardNeal) July 22, 2020
If the Senate doesn’t take action this week, millions of struggling families will lose their unemployment benefits. In Michigan, benefits run out in just three days. Please, raise your voice to #Savethe600!
— Rep. Andy Levin (@RepAndyLevin) July 22, 2020
????$600 in weekly unemployment benefits EXPIRES THIS WEEK.????
Unless we #ExtendUI NOW, 30 million people will lose the lifeline allowing them to keep paying their bills.
We can’t turn our backs on the Americans who have been hit hardest by this pandemic. #SaveThe600
— Sherrod Brown (@SenSherrodBrown) July 22, 2020
✨ THREAD: We are working w/ many organizations & friends in the fight to #ExtendUI – here's a snapshot of the amazing work developing all over the U.S. to protect millions of unemployed workers! Join the cause & help us #Savethe600: https://t.co/SnkATpdUXo #WeAreTheEconomy ✨
— MomsRising (@MomsRising) July 22, 2020
Congress came back from recess this week and is considering a new $1 trillion stimulus package put forth by Senate Republicans and the White House. The package would keep the extra jobless benefits but scale back the weekly amount. Democrats, meanwhile, are pushing for the full $600.
In any case, it’s unlikely that lawmakers will come to an agreement before the program expires. A report in Bloomberg suggested that they might approve a short-term extension, but the details are unclear.