GOP Senate Trio Threatens to Delay Stimulus Bill Because Unemployment Benefits Amid Pandemic Are Too Generous

Republican Sens. Lindsey Graham, Tim Scott, and Ben Sasse on Wednesday threatened to delay the Senate’s multi-trillion-dollar coronavirus stimulus bill because they believe the legislation’s unemployment provisions are too generous.

In a joint statement, the GOP senators claimed there is “a massive drafting error in the current version of the coronavirus relief legislation could have devastating consequences: Unless this bill is fixed, there is a strong incentive for employees to be laid off instead of going to work.”

As Vox‘s Matt Yglesias noted on Twitter, “That’s not how layoffs work. You can quit your job, but then you’re not eligible for [unemployment insurance]. You can’t lay yourself off.”

The trio of Republicans went on to say that they “must sadly oppose the fast-tracking of this bill until this text is addressed, or the Department of Labor issues regulatory guidance that no American would earn more by not working than by working.”

While the full text of the Senate bill is not yet publicly available, reporters said the unemployment provision in question is not an error. The bill would provide an extra $600 a week on top of state-provided unemployment benefits for a period of four months, which progressives celebrated as a historic expansion of unemployment insurance as they criticized the totality of the measure. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) described the package as “unemployment insurance on steroids.”

As Slate‘s Jordan Weissmann explained, under the stimulus bill “a lot of low-wage workers will end up getting more money through unemployment than they previously were earning on the job”—precisely the scenario that so concerns Graham, Scott, and Sasse.

“Perhaps not coincidentally, $600 a week is what you would earn working 40 hours a week at $15 per hour (pretax),” Weissmann wrote. “And again, that’s in addition to normal unemployment insurance. For a lot of restaurant and retail workers who’ve been furloughed or laid off as a result of the crisis, it’s a pretty excellent deal.”

During a press conference Wednesday afternoon, Graham—joined by Sasse, Scott, and Sen. Rick Scott (R-Fla.)—said if the unemployment language is not a mistake, “it’s the worst idea I’ve seen in a long time.”

“It’s not a drafting error,” tweeted Dan Riffle, a former policy adviser to Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.). “Senate Republicans are just so inhumane they can’t imagine policymakers intentionally providing working people with enough money to temporarily live on in the event they’re laid off.”

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8 Comments on "GOP Senate Trio Threatens to Delay Stimulus Bill Because Unemployment Benefits Amid Pandemic Are Too Generous"

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Inzane
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Inzane

I wish Graham would just stick his head back in his butt.

Sonja
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Sonja

Billions to corporations. Pennies to workers. Thanks GOP for not a damn thing.

J. M.
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J. M.

How much more vile and demonic can these criminals get?

Lou
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Lindsey should not threaten any that MOUSE hasn’t hot a backbone in his body. He is only a mouse with a big mouth . He was seen standing in front of a mirror practicing yelling, what a joke.This man has no idea what is happening to the people who need to eat and pay their house payment. Need to replace this mouse ASAP.

chris whitley
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chris whitley

I find the limits that people will go to utterly amazing over a few bucks. This is just plain bullshit.

Tessa
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Tessa

Must vote this president out & flip the senate with urgency. I don’t believe these three or 4 with Rick Scott opening his mouth, he was a horrible Governor & even worse in current position. He allowed so many elderly die, suffer during the hurricane that left all facilities with no air conditioning or backup systems, he is incompetent & cannot stand him, as well as Matt Gaetz. We have some terribly evil ppl in power that never should be allowed…

Robert Burnett
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Robert Burnett

Our next election, let’s vote he GOP bums out and put them in the unemployment lines. Then let them tell us benefits are to generous. Worthless bums.

Dona
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Dona

May God have mercy on your wicked, tarnished, evil soul….oh that’s right you hideous money loving scum ….you don’t have a soul.