- Manchin says he won’t vote to extend the $300 federal jobless benefit when it expires in September.
- “We need people back to work,” West Virginia’s Democrat senator told Politico.
- There’s some division among Democrats on whether the Biden stimulus measure should be renewed.
- See more stories on Insider’s business page.
Sen. Joe Manchin said he won’t back extending the $300 federal unemployment benefit from President Joe Biden’s stimulus, which could possibly torpedo the jobless measure once it expires on Sept. 6.
“I’ll never vote for another extension as long as I know that with the vaccines, there’s not an excuse for no one to be vaccinated,” the West Virginia Democrat told Politico. “I understand there’s millions of jobs in America that we can’t fill right now. So we need people back to work. There’s more and more people understanding they’re in trouble.”
Manchin’s opposition highlights a rift among the Democrats over the extension of federal unemployment benefits later this summer. But some centrist Democrats are waiting to see how the economic recovery plays out before deciding on the issue.
Sen. Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire cited the low unemployment rate in her state, and told Politico “if that continues it probably should not be extended.”
During Senate debate to approve Biden’s $1.8 trillion stimulus law, Manchin withheld his support from a provision to put in place a $400 weekly federal jobless benefit that would expire at the end of September. After a spate of last-minute negotiations, he pushed to cut it to $300 per week with an early September expiration date.
Manchin’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment asking whether he supported terminating programs providing jobless benefits to gig workers, freelancers, and the long-term unemployed in September.
The recent April jobs report showed employers adding 266,000 jobs, a lackluster amount that prompted Republicans and business groups to increasingly argue the jobless aid is luring people away from the workforce.
The Chamber of Commerce has called for an immediate end to the stimulus measure, and at least 10 GOP-led states are ending their participation in the federal program in June. Still, many experts say the federal unemployment benefit did not dissuade people from seeking jobs last year, and other factors like school closures, fear of the virus, and lack of access to childcare are playing larger roles keeping workers on the sidelines.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said at a press conference on Tuesday there was “overwhelming support” among Democrats to renew it. “Many more people are helped by this $300 extra,” he said.
Other Democrats are warning about the end of enhanced unemployment insurance in many states. Sen. Ron Wyden of Oregon, chair of the Senate Finance Committee, called for the Biden administration to step in and prevent workers from losing jobless aid in GOP-led states.
“Mothers without childcare are not going to be back on the job in just a few weeks’ time, and they shouldn’t face financial ruin for living in states run by Republicans,” Wyden said in a Tuesday statement.