The White House says Biden isn’t pushing Congress to renew federal jobless aid because the economy is rebounding

jen psaki
White House press secretary Jen Psaki speaks during a press briefing at the White House, Monday, July 12, 2021.
  • The White House says Biden won't push Congress for a renewal of jobless aid a week before it expires.
  • "I think he made a decision on where things stand in our economic recovery at this point in time," White House press secretary Jen Psaki said.
  • Some experts say it's too early to end benefits, especially as Delta cases surge and millions remain unemployed.
  • See more stories on Insider's business page.

In exactly a week, an estimated 7.5 million workers will lose all of their employment benefits, according to an analysis from the left-leaning Century Foundation. But the Biden administration doesn't appear interested in prodding lawmakers to back a renewal.

It's a fiscal cliff that Andrew Stettner, a jobless-policy expert and a senior fellow at the Century Foundation, calls a "five-alarm fire."

On Monday, the White House said President Joe Biden had opted not to push Congress on extending the benefits because the economy has been on the rebound.

"I think he made a decision on where things stand in our economic recovery at this point in time," White House press secretary Jen Psaki said at a Monday news briefing.

She added that the administration's focus was pivoting to ensuring Americans can access state relief programs as well as the newly expanded child tax credit, which provides monthly payments for families with children.

"Our objective continues to be to work with states and localities to keep people in their homes, make sure people have the assistance they need," she said.

The economy has indeed rebounded from the depths of the pandemic last year. Last month, employers added 943,000 jobs as wages steadily rose and unemployment fell. It was the strongest gain in nearly a year. But the US is still 5.7 million jobs down from pre-pandemic levels, many of them in education. Some experts have said it's too early to end benefits, especially as Delta cases surge and millions remain unemployed.

States have options to offer jobless benefits - but none have said they will

The Biden administration recently encouraged states struggling with surging caseloads from the Delta variant to renew benefits on their own using leftover stimulus aid. So far, none have committed to it, Insider found.

The Department of Labor also released guidance saying states could use those stimulus funds for one-time or periodic relief payments; California has already used some of its allocation to send out checks to the majority of residents.

In-person schooling has already been threatened by increased cases. That means that parents who dropped out of the workforce may not be able to return as planned. Increased caseloads may also prevent older workers from coming back, as they fear contracting the virus.

But even as millions of workers face down the complete loss of benefits or slashed incomes, the federal government and Congress have made it clear that they won't be intervening. Like the struck-down eviction moratorium, which could put 7.4 million people at risk of losing their homes, further help will have to come from states.

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