- The Washington Times - Monday, August 3, 2020

Sen. Lindsey Graham on Monday said he plans to introduce an amendment that would cap boosted unemployment benefits at 100% of a worker’s previous wages.

The South Carolina Republican explained in at a press gaggle in his home state that he hopes his proposal will be the middle ground that actually breaks the gridlock between Democrats and Republicans on the coronavirus relief talks.

Mr. Graham’s plan would give states about a month to create a system that would shift the additional weekly benefits to completely cover a worker’s wages rather than the current $600 payments across the board. He argued that some people are making about 150% more with these unemployment benefits than they did before.

“All I’m saying is, I want to replace your wages but not give you a pay raise,” he said. “I think that you can come up with technology to reimburse people up to 100% and not more.”

“I don’t know how many Republicans would go there. I’m hoping Democrats would say that’s reasonable,” Mr. Graham added.

Democrats want to extend the $600 weekly payments while Republicans‘ proposal would have sharply cut it down to $200 a week and then 70% of a worker’s wages.

Other Republicans — Sens. Susan Collins of Maine, Martha McSally of Arizona and Mitt Romney of Utah — also rolled out a slightly different offer last week that would include a scaled-down approach. It would have unemployment remain at $600 a week for the next month, decrease to $400 a week a month after that, and then finally down to around 80% of a worker’s previous wages.

With enhanced unemployment benefits officially expired, Republicans offered short-term extensions for the payments, though Democrats rejected them, saying they needed to be closer to a larger bill before adopting a “piecemeal” approach.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi doubled down on the Democrats’ position Monday.

“I think that the number, the $600 is related more to the unemployment rate. If the unemployment goes down, then that number can go down, but it doesn’t go down – you know, you’re not saying to the American people we have more infections, we have more deaths, we have more unemployment, we have more hunger, and now we’re going to cut your benefit,” she said on CNN.

Mrs. Pelosi did suggest that Mr. Romney’s proposal was “something to talk about.”

Negotiations will continue on Monday for the sixth day, although parties on both ends haven’t been optimistic about reaching a deal anytime soon.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell set up a procedural vote on a “shell” bill that would require 60 votes for any unemployment amendments to pass.

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