Speed Reads

one huge mess

Republicans prepare to end unemployment boost as people camp out just to receive initial benefits

A $600/week unemployment boost meant to help the record number of Americans out of work amid the COVID-19 pandemic is expiring at the end of the month, and Republicans seemingly have no plans to let it continue.

Congress started working out a new coronavirus relief bill this week, but Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) didn't mention extending the unemployment boost in unveiling his party's priorities on Tuesday. Labor Secretary Eugene Scalia similarly said Tuesday that the initial stimulus was "something extraordinary," but "we're in a different place, so I don't see the $600 as continuing."

But many Americans aren't in a different place, and some haven't even gotten the boosted benefits they applied for months ago. In Oklahoma, hundreds of people recently camped out in their cars for a shot at one of 800 slots with state unemployment agents to figure out why they hadn't seen unemployment checks yet, The Washington Post reported Tuesday. As of June 21, Oklahoma had approved less than half of the 590,000 claims it had received, and even those whose claims were approved didn't necessarily end up getting paid.

McConnell recently said the boost "made it harder actually to get people back to work" because they were making more unemployment than at their jobs, but economist Carl Tannenbaum laid out some data that disputed that idea. Kathryn Krawczyk