$600 unemployment supporters are rallying for a last-minute extension as benefits set to expire

By Connie Lin

While there’s no end in sight to the coronavirus pandemic, there’s a very clear end for the pandemic relief unemployment payments that have been keeping some 50 million Americans afloat these past four months.

That’s ending this week.

The $600-per-week payments, which were included as part of March’s coronavirus aid package, were meant to keep food on the table and roofs over the heads of Americans suffering from COVID-19 job losses. And back in March—when President Trump was still insisting we would reopen the economy on Easter with “churches full” of people—the program was assigned an expiration date of July 31.

Now as that date nears—with cases surging into record territory and states receding into lockdown phases—many Americans are still jobless and struggling to pay bills.

With this in mind, citizens on social media are calling to extend the extra jobless benefits. On Twitter, the movement is trending under the hashtag #Savethe600, which is being used by policy groups, nonprofit organizations, and members of Congress.

Congress came back from recess this week and is considering a new $1 trillion stimulus package put forth by Senate Republicans and the White House. The package would keep the extra jobless benefits but scale back the weekly amount. Democrats, meanwhile, are pushing for the full $600.

In any case, it’s unlikely that lawmakers will come to an agreement before the program expires. A report in Bloomberg suggested that they might approve a short-term extension, but the details are unclear.

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