• House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer said in a CNN interview that Democrats are not drawing a red line on extending the $600 weekly federal unemployment benefits.
  • “Look, it’s not $600 or bust. Pelosi said the other day, which I thought was a great line: ‘We don’t have red lines, we have values,'” Hoyer said.
  • Republicans and Democrats are clashing on enhanced unemployment benefits, a major component of the next economic relief package being negotiated in Congress.
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A top House Democrat said the party isn’t drawing a red line on extending the $600 federal supplement to unemployment benefits on Tuesday. That opens the door for a compromise with Republicans on reducing the government payouts in the next economic relief package.

“Look, it’s not $600 or bust. Pelosi said the other day, which I thought was a great line: ‘We don’t have red lines, we have values.’ We’re going into these negotiations with values,” House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer said in a CNN interview.

He went on: “To say that $600 or nothing, no, that’s not where we are. We’re prepared to discuss this. But we’re also not prepared, however, to let down the American people, to let down the states, the cities, the local governments who hire people, who are meeting this pandemic’s crisis, including health personnel.”

Hoyer said he thought the $600 weekly bonus – which Congress authorized in March to augment state payouts – could disincentivize people from returning to work. It resembles an argument made by Republicans in recent months.

“I think that’s an argument that is – has some validity to it. And we ought to deal with that. And there is a way to deal with that, but not this way, not cold turkey,” Hoyer said on CNN.

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The GOP fiercely opposes extending the benefit past its official expiration on July 31. The last federal supplements, however, were distributed over the weekend in all 50 states.

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Republicans and Democrats are clashing on enhanced unemployment benefits, a major component of the next stimulus legislation. Democrats are seeking to extend the $600 federal payouts through January 2021, arguing the economy remains weak with the renewed surge of the coronavirus infections.

If implemented, the Congressional Budget Office found that five out of six unemployed people could earn more from the government than their past job.

The GOP unveiled their unemployment plan on Monday. It calls for keeping a reduced payout of $200 a week on top of state benefits through September. In October, that would be replaced with a new system that caps benefits at 70% of a jobless person’s lost wages with the federal government kicking in a maximum amount of $500.