Senate Republicans are proposing a $1 trillion coronavirus relief plan that calls for reducing beefed-up federal weekly unemployment benefits from $600 to $200 for two months, or until states can provide 70% of a worker’s former wages, according to people familiar with the proposal.
The package, which is likely to begin weeks of feuding with Democrats, also will include liability reform, another round of $1,200 direct payments to most Americans, $105 billion to helps schools reopen, more money for the popular Paycheck Protection Program and $25 billion for enhanced coronavirus testing.
The bill’s introduction comes as the $600-per-week unemployment benefits, approved in late March, are due to expire on Friday. The White House supports the measure.
Many Republican lawmakers say the $600 benefit is preventing workers from returning to their jobs because it’s higher than their wages. Democrats want to extend the $600 benefit through the end of the year as part of their overall $3-trillion-plus package.
Asked about lowering the federal unemployment benefit to $200 per week for 60 days, White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow said talks between the administration and the Senate GOP were in “final discussions.”
“These are technical adjustments to the formulas. I don’t want to predict,” Mr. Kudlow told reporters.
Conservatives are opposed to any extension of the weekly federal unemployment benefits, saying they shouldn’t be part of a final bill.
“Congress must end the ‘bonus’ payment that for nearly half of American workers means they receive more in unemployment benefits than they get paid going back to their jobs,” said the Club for Growth. “It is unfair to tax workers who are working to pay for a ‘bonus’ that disincentivizes other workers from going back to work.”