Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

A volunteer prepares food from the Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida for distribution to the needy at Church in the Son on August 7, 2020 in Orlando, Florida. (Photo: Paul Hennessy/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Just Two States Have Begun Paying Out Boosted Unemployment Aid 15 Days After Mnuchin Promised Benefits in a 'Week or Two'

"The American people need real relief that fights the pandemic and puts money in workers' pockets—posturing and gimmicks will not solve the enormous problems they face."

Jake Johnson

Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin vowed on August 10 that "within the next week or two," most states would be able to set up and carry out President Donald Trump's makeshift program authorizing a $300-per-week federal boost to unemployment benefits.

As of Tuesday, more than two weeks after Mnuchin's comments, just Arizona and Texas have begun distributing the $300 weekly payments, leading Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.) to declare that "Trump's smoke-and-mirrors executive orders are simply not good enough."

"The American people need real relief that fights the pandemic and puts money in workers' pockets—posturing and gimmicks will not solve the enormous problems they face."
—Rep. Don Beyer
Earlier this month, after the White House and Democratic congressional leaders failed to reach a deal extending the federal unemployment supplement that lapsed at the end of July, Trump signed an order redirecting up to $44 billion in disaster funds into a new program that lawmakers and experts criticized as illegal, unworkable, and woefully inadequate. The president promised the benefits would be "rapidly distributed."

The Lost Wages Assistance program greenlights a $300-per-week federal supplement to existing state unemployment benefits, with cash-strapped states expected to kick in an additional $100 each week. The $300 weekly federal boost represents just half of the $600-per-week supplement that officially expired on July 31 thanks to opposition from congressional Republicans and the Trump administration.

As Bloomberg reported Tuesday, 30 states have been approved for the federal benefits but many are struggling to get the program up and running due to its design. Officials from Utah and New Mexico, two states that have been approved for the program, told Bloomberg that "they anticipate it will be a few weeks before payments reach residents."

Beyer, the vice chair of the congressional Joint Economic Committee, noted in a statement Tuesday that "it has been a month now since Senate Republicans shamefully allowed enhanced unemployment benefits to expire," drastically cutting the incomes of around 30 million Americans.

"The American people need real relief that fights the pandemic and puts money in workers' pockets—posturing and gimmicks will not solve the enormous problems they face," said Beyer. "If the White House does not get serious about the level of aid that is needed, it will imperil the economic recovery."

Beyer's warning comes amid numerous signs—including surging unemployment claims—that the recovery is sputtering as Covid-19 continues to spread across the United States. Some analysts have linked the expiration of the $600-per-week federal unemployment boost to faltering consumer spending:

Despite the worrying trajectory of the overall economy and the dire financial conditions that tens of millions of Americans are currently facing, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has shown no interest in calling his chamber back from summer recess to work with House Democrats on a Covid-19 relief package.

"Thirty million don't have enough to eat, 22 million are behind on rent," Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) tweeted Monday. "It is morally obscene that the American people have to rely on GoFundMe to pay for rent and food. Mitch McConnell: End your vacation. Pass emergency relief now."


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

This is the world we live in. This is the world we cover.

Because of people like you, another world is possible. There are many battles to be won, but we will battle them together—all of us. Common Dreams is not your normal news site. We don't survive on clicks. We don't want advertising dollars. We want the world to be a better place. But we can't do it alone. It doesn't work that way. We need you. If you can help today—because every gift of every size matters—please do. Without Your Support We Simply Don't Exist.

As Bids to Slash Pentagon Budget Fail, US Military Spending Slammed as 'Height of Absurdity'

"Spending $780 billion on weapons and war while our communities starve, while the climate crisis worsens, while a pandemic that has killed millions and affected countless more rages on, is a national shame."

Brett Wilkins ·


'This Is Big': House Passes Amendment to Cut US Complicity in Saudi Bombing of Yemen

The vote, said Rep. Ro Khanna, "sent a clear message to the Saudis: end the bombing in Yemen and lift the blockade."

Andrea Germanos ·


Praised for 'Braving the Smears,' Tlaib Votes Against $1 Billion in Military Aid to Israel

One rights group thanked Tlaib "for speaking truth to power" while being attacked "for simply insisting that Palestinians are human beings who deserve safety, security, and freedom from Israeli apartheid."

Brett Wilkins ·


'A Choice Point for Humanity': Women Demand Visionary Shift at UN Climate Talks

"This is the time to unite together to build the healthy and just future we know is possible for each other and the Earth."

Julia Conley ·


'Hold Strong': Coalition Urges House to Reject Bipartisan Bill Until Reconciliation Package Passed

The bipartisan infrastructure bill "doesn't contain the climate solutions and care, education, and economic investments we need," more than 90 progressive groups wrote in a letter.

Kenny Stancil ·

Support our work.

We are independent, non-profit, advertising-free and 100% reader supported.

Subscribe to our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values.
Direct to your inbox.

Subscribe to our Newsletter.


Common Dreams, Inc. Founded 1997. Registered 501(c3) Non-Profit | Privacy Policy
Common Dreams Logo