McConnell Says He Now Supports Extending $600 Unemployment Benefits After Blocking Them For 3 Months
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said on Tuesday night that he will support an extension of the $600 weekly unemployment benefit that has been part of a larger coronavirus relief aid bill after blocking the measure for over three months.
During a GOP press conference on Tuesday, McConnell talked about developments in the discussions for another round of coronavirus relief aid with Democrats and the White House. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has been urging McConnell to pass the HEROES Act, which includes the $600 federal unemployment aid that expired last month and passed the House three months ago.
“Wherever this thing settles between the president of the United States and his team, who has to sign it into law, and the Democrat, not insignificant minority in the Senate and majority in the House, is something I’m prepared to support,” McConnell told reporters. “Even if I have some problems with certain parts of it.”
While Democrats are pushing an extension of the $600 payment, Republicans have been debating on the amount at first proposing a $200 payment.
“If you’re looking for total consensus among Republican senators, you’re not going to find it,” McConnell said after a lunch meeting with Republican senators. “We do have division about what to do.”
McConnell raised concerns whether Republicans would support the bill at all.
“We know this is going to be a negotiated settlement,” McConnell said. “It’s not going to produce a kumbaya moment like we had back in March and April where everybody voted aye. But the American people in the end need help.”
Pelosi signaled that Democrats want to keep the amount of the payment $600, stressing the importance of the aid amid stark rates of unemployment amid the still ongoing pandemic.
“A building is on fire, and they are deciding how much water they want to have in the bucket,” Pelosi said. “This is very important – millions of people could have fallen into poverty without this $600.”