CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Negotiations on a fifth coronavirus relief package continue as federal lawmakers face increased pressure to pass something before the congressional recess begins next week.
Democratic leaders and Trump administration officials met Tuesday, in which the Associated Press reported both sides made progress on an eviction moratorium for federally subsidized housing.
Yet there are obstacles in reaching a deal, including the $600 weekly boost to unemployment benefits which expired nationwide last month.
U.S. Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., said on Tuesday’s “MetroNews Talkline” when she was in West Virginia last weekend, finding a legislative solution was a leading concern among constituents.
“People would say ‘can you just reach a conclusion here?’ Help us out with getting our schools reopened, health care and also the economic challenges,” she said.
The increase in unemployment benefits in West Virginia expired on July 25. Capito said there is an “appetite” for an extension, but she remains opposed to the previous increase.
Capito said last week she supports a $200-per-week additional benefit through September. Under the Republican-proposed HEALS Act, the benefit would be replaced in October with a $500 a week payment between state and federal unemployment benefits.
“We’ve run into the issue of where people aren’t going back to work in some instances because they can and are making more on unemployment in West Virginia than they would if they were working,” she argued.
The congressional recess is scheduled to begin Aug. 10, although Friday marks the final day of legislative business. Republican senators have urged Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., to cancel the recess period if a deal is not reached before the weekend.