CHARLESTON, W.Va. — With the U.S. Senate not scheduled to have another vote until Monday, the $600 unemployment benefit increase will expire nationwide on Friday.
Federal legislators approved the increase in mid-March as a response to rising unemployment numbers related to the coronavirus pandemic.
The weekly boost in West Virginia expired on July 25, and the extra dollars for West Virginians have already gone out.
WorkForce West Virginia acting commissioner Scott Adkins said the agency has distributed $1.3 billion since March, which includes around $820 million from coronavirus relief packages.
“I think most people generally have an understanding that the $600 ends in July, and so their benefits will be significantly less moving forward,” he said.
Congress has a recess period scheduled to begin Aug. 7. The Associated Press reported Friday the Trump administration and Republican leaders seem more willing to support reinstating the benefit, noting White House chief of staff Mark Meadows’ accusation that Democratic leaders have not made any other offers.
U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., told MetroNews affiliate WAJR-AM congressional leaders from both parties need to better communicate to reach a deal.
“They’re not even talking to each other, and that’s the problem. I think they’ll be forced to do something next week,” he said.
Manchin, who has also said the $600 increase should change, urged legislators to reach a deal addressing the ongoing and future effects of the pandemic.
“We’re throwing families into this disarray. You have had a COVID pandemic on top of an opioid epidemic, and just with that the disfunction of families today,” he said. “We’re leaving kids behind.”
Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., on Thursday told MetroNews that lawmakers need to “target” funding and spoke favorably of the HEALS Act, the Senate Republicans’ $1 trillion proposal. The measure would reduce the federal unemployment benefit increase to $200 a week through September, which would be replaced in October with a new increase of $500 when combined with state unemployment benefits.