What Senate Republicans are proposing for the COVID-19 relief bill
Share Now on:
Senate Republicans are expected to unveil their $1 trillion coronavirus relief bill Thursday. Congress still hasn’t decided whether to extend the extra $600 a week in supplemental unemployment benefit, which expires at the end of this month.
Marketplace’s Nancy Marshall-Genzer is tracking this news. The following is an edited transcript of her conversation with Marketplace’s Sabri Ben-Achour.
Sabri Ben-Achour: Nancy, are Republicans in favor of extending the extra unemployment?
Nancy Marshall-Genzer: They’ve divided over this. They could offer a temporary extension of the $600 payment. Or they might give unemployed workers a lower weekly supplement — maybe a couple hundred dollars a week.
Ben-Achour: And when do those $600 payments end?
Marshall-Genzer: In a matter of days. Officially they expire on July 31, which is a Friday. Most states pay unemployment for the week ending on a Saturday, not Friday. That means, for most unemployed workers, this is the last week they’ll get the extra $600.
Ben-Achour: What’s keeping Congress from just extending the extra $600 a week?
Marshall-Genzer: Some Republicans say the $600 payment is too high and discourages people from looking for a job because they earn more on unemployment than they did when they were working. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Thursday on CNBC that unemployment shouldn’t be more than 100% of a worker’s salary:
“But we went to make sure that the people that are out there that can’t find jobs do get a reasonable wage replacement. So it will be based on approximately 70% wage replacement.”
Mnuchin also said that there won’t be a payroll tax credit in the Republican relief bill. That’s something President Trump was pushing for.
COVID-19 Economy FAQs
Millions of Americans are unemployed, but businesses say they are having trouble hiring. Why?
This economic crisis is unusual compared to traditional recessions, according to Daniel Zhao, senior economist with Glassdoor. “Many workers are still sitting out of the labor force because of health concerns or child care needs, and that makes it tough to find workers regardless of what you’re doing with wages or benefits,” Zhao said. “An extra dollar an hour isn’t going to make a cashier with preexisting conditions feel that it’s safe to return to work.” This can be seen in the restaurant industry: Some workers have quit or are reluctant to apply because of COVID-19 concerns, low pay, meager benefits and the stress that comes with a fast-paced, demanding job. Restaurants have been willing to offer signing bonuses and temporary wage increases. One McDonald’s is even paying people $50 just to interview.
Could waiving patents increase the global supply of COVID-19 vaccines?
India and South Africa have introduced a proposal to temporarily suspend patents on COVID-19 vaccines. Backers of the plan say it would increase the supply of vaccines around the world by allowing more countries to produce them. Skeptics say it’s not that simple. There’s now enough supply in the U.S that any adult who wants a shot should be able to get one soon. That reality is years away for most other countries. More than 100 countries have backed the proposal to temporarily waive COVID-19 vaccine patents. The U.S isn’t one of them, but the White House has said it’s considering the idea.
Can businesses deny you entry if you don’t have a vaccine passport?
As more Americans get vaccinated against COVID-19 and the economy continues reopening, some businesses are requiring proof of vaccination to enter their premises. The concept of a vaccine passport has raised ethical questions about data privacy and potential discrimination against the unvaccinated. However, legal experts say businesses have the right to deny entrance to those who can’t show proof.
We’re here to help you navigate this changed world and economy.
Our mission at Marketplace is to raise the economic intelligence of the country. It’s a tough task, but it’s never been more important.
In the past year, we’ve seen record unemployment, stimulus bills, and reddit users influencing the stock market. Marketplace helps you understand it all, will fact-based, approachable, and unbiased reporting.
Generous support from listeners and readers is what powers our nonprofit news—and your donation today will help provide this essential service. For just $5/month, you can sustain independent journalism that keeps you and thousands of others informed.
You make our
Support nonprofit news you love with a gift today.