Top U.S. House Republican resists extending coronavirus unemployment benefits

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The top Republican in the U.S. House of Representatives said on Tuesday it would not be productive to extend extra unemployment benefits that were included in coronavirus relief legislation earlier this year but that expire on July 31.

“I don’t think it’s productive to extend the added money from the federal government. We’re finding numerous people… that it’s becoming a hardship for individuals to go back to work,” House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy told a news conference.

Republicans and Democrats have been debating over what else needs to be done to help the country recover from the economic effects of the novel coronavirus, which led to business closures that left millions of Americans out of work.

McCarthy was referring to statistics showing many Americans are paid more thanks to the extended unemployment benefits than they earned when they were at work.

Instead, he said, the focus should be on getting people back to work.

“We want incentives. We want all Americans to work. So our focus is to rebuild, to renew and restore America,” McCarthy said.

The loss of the safety net of $600 per week looms well before a sustained recovery is likely to take hold from the sudden and deep recession brought by the pandemic. Personal income dropped 4.2% in May.

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