14 Million People Will Lose Their Unemployment Benefits on December 26, 2020
The CARES Act expanded unemployment insurance eligibility and duration during the pandemic. Of this, the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program was the largest component, giving unemployment benefits to workers who are normally ineligible for regular state UI programs such as contract and self-employed workers. The PUA gave these workers 39 weeks of unemployment benefits. Meanwhile the Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) program provided 13 additional weeks of benefits to those that exhausted regular state UI benefits. These programs will expire on December 26th.
According to the latest DOL data, there are currently over 21 million unemployed workers receiving UI benefits of which 13.6 million are enrolled in either PUA or PEUC; these are shown in red and green in the chart below.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Democratic Leader Charles Schumer (N.Y.) have insisted for weeks that the House-passed $2.2 trillion bill is their starting point for any negotiations as they’ve sought to nudge Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) closer to their position from the $500 billion he’s championed.
But the Democratic strategy is running into roadblocks as Joe Biden signals he wants an agreement this year and more and more Democratic lawmakers are opening the door to going below the top leaders’ $2.2 trillion red line.
“I just hope that we can get agreement. It may not be everything that everybody wants but at least if we can get some significant relief to people,” House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) told CQ-Roll Call. “And then we're going to be here next year. If we need to do other things, we'll do other things.”
The calls appeared to be turbocharged when The New York Times reported that Biden’s team was pressing Pelosi and Schumer to cut a deal during the lame-duck, even if it’s smaller than Democratic leaders in Congress prefer.
Senate Republicans have twice offered a roughly $500 billion GOP-only bill that was blocked in the Senate. McConnell, if there’s going to be a year-end deal, wants it to be similar to that legislation, which included another round of Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) aid, money for schools and testing and the GOP leader’s red-line of protections against coronavirus lawsuits.