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Will Congress extend $600 unemployment payments?

Jennifer Lewke
Updated: June 29, 2020 06:37 PM
Created: June 29, 2020 05:07 PM

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — Many New Yorkers are relying on unemployment benefits to get through the pandemic but that extra $600 per week you’ve been getting from the federal government will only last for a few more weeks unless Congress acts to extend it.  

Ken Ferguson is still waiting to receive his unemployment benefits after filing a claim back in April.

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When that claim is finally processed, he’ll get retroactive pay to the date of his unemployment along with the additional weekly $600 payments the federal government has been provided. But even as someone who is benefiting from the money, he still believes it’s a lot.

“When I first heard about it, I thought it was the craziest thing in the world, you're never going to get anybody to go back to work,” he said.

When Congress passed the bill, it was hard to know how long the pandemic would keep businesses closed. So, it allows everyone out of work in New York to file for up to 39 weeks of benefits. The additional $600 weekly payments will expire the week ending July 26.  

News10NBC Investigative Reporter Jennifer Lewke spoke with Congressman Joe Morelle to see if he’s considering a bill to extend it.  

Congressman Morelle: "So, we're now a month away from that happening and still millions of Americans are out of work so, that's one thing that I would like to see, either extend it or some form of enhancement going forward."

Jennifer Lewke: "I know the argument on the other side has been that $600, means that more people are making more than they would if they were working, on unemployment.  Are you open to some sort of compromise?  Less than $600 but still something?"

Congressman Morelle: "Well, what I had originally wanted to do and there may be time to still do this… my preference would not have been to use unemployment insurance, my preference would have been to go to businesses, particularly small and medium-sized businesses, pay the payroll for them, have people stay in place so they didn't need to be let go or put on furlough."

Jennifer Lewke: "So, you’re hopeful some compromise can be reached?"

Congressman Morelle: "Here would be the bigger problem, to do nothing.  That I can't envision us doing.  I pray that the senate comes to the table and I think we're open to a whole host of things but we need to help make sure people get through this, can pay their bills and can meet their obligations."


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