White House chief of staff says Trump won't extend the weekly unemployment boost because it 'paid people to stay home'

  • White House chief of staff Mark Meadows said Sunday the president was not interested in extending the $600 weekly boost to federal unemployment benefits as they're set to expire on July 31. 
  • Meadows said the $600 per month increase to unemployment "actually paid people to stay home" and "people got more money staying at home than they would going back to work." 
  • The $600 weekly boost was passed in March as part of the CARES Act in order to supplement the gap between a worker's lost wage and state unemployment benefits, which cover just a portion of a person's previous earnings. 
  • Meadows said the Trump administration planned to support an effort to expand unemployment insurance that would provide up to 70% of an individual's lost wages — though state officials have previously warned such a plan would take weeks to implement.
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White House chief of staff Mark Meadows said Sunday that the Trump administration was not interested in extending current federal unemployment benefits instituted earlier during the pandemic because it "paid people to stay home." 

"The original unemployment benefits actually paid people to stay home, and actually a lot of people got more money staying at home than they would go back to work," Meadows said during an appearance Sunday on ABC's "This Week." "The president has been very clear, our Republican senators have been very clear, we aren't going to extend that provision."

As Business Insider's Joseph Zeballos-Roig reported, approximately 32 million Americans on unemployment could see a reduction in benefits up to 75% by the end of the month if Congress does not renew or replace its $600 weekly boost to unemployment payments. Lawmakers had instituted the boost as part of the CARES Act in March to keep Americans afloat during the COVID-19 pandemic as benefits from states often cover just 30% to 50% of a worker's lost wages.


On Friday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said he would like to negotiate a new stimulus package with Democrats "in the next few weeks," though The Washington Post reported also Friday that infighting within the GOP had posed a roadblock for new coronavirus economic relief legislation.

Meadows said the White House was prepared to offer a proposal on Monday to help "get people back on their feet."

"We are going to be prepared on Monday to provide unemployment insurance extension that would be 70% of whatever the wages you were prior to being unemployed," Meadows said. Under the Trump administration's system proposed last week, the average weekly federal benefits for unemployed Americans would be reduced to about $200.

The Economic Policy Institute has estimated that 3.4 million fewer jobs will be created over the next year if unemployment benefits are reduced by $400.

As Business Insider previously reported, officials have warned that the transition to the president's proposed reduced benefits could take some states months to implement, though Meadows pushed back on that Sunday, telling Stephanopoulos that the administration planned to work with state agencies to ensure that "antiquated computer" systems did not cause delays in benefits. 

The discussion comes amid the continued increase in cases of the coronavirus in the US. According to data analyzed by Johns Hopkins University, there have been at least 4,193,103 cases of the coronavirus in the US that have resulted in more than 146,000 deaths.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the unemployment rate was 11.1% in June, a decline as a result of the creation of 4.8 million jobs in June.

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