Transcript for With COVID-19 unemployment benefits set to expire, fears over how to stay afloat
Onederful. At pandemic hit and businesses closed, a weekly federal unemployment check helped millions of Americans survive. Now the fight in congress as lawmakers grapple with a decision that could change the lives of so many people already on the brink. Here's ABC's Mary Bruce. This is the longest I've been unemployed. It's been over four months now, and this $600 lifeline help the us, and it helps us pay into the economy as well. To keep things afloat. Reporter: Scott is one of the millions of Americans grateful for an extra $600 a week to help make ends meet. It was a great lifeline for us to pay some bills that couldn't be reduced. There's a huge middle class sector like us that need that to get by. Reporter: Laid off from his job at an online advertising company in March when the coronavirus hit hard and living in the state with the second highest unemployment rate in the country, his main focus has been trying to figure out how to support his family. We've applied for so many assistance groups. I'd say we've exhausted pretty much every option we can. Reporter: Even forced to pick up necessities from three different food banks every week. I'm at my next food bank, my second one for today. You may be wondering, why does a middle class family need to visit a food bank? We still had to pay rent, we had to pay some other utility bills. We wondered how we would do our food bills. Reporter: This weekend will be the last time they receive that additional $600 payment. The emergency assistance is set to expire, after lawmakers in Washington failed to reach an agreement today. All right, thank you all. Reporter: When congress passed and the president signed the C.A.R.E.S act in March, a $600 weekly bonus were provided to people who were jobless. Because unemployment benefits vary greatly across the country, the $600 was added to the compensation from your state. In New Jersey where the maximum payout is $713, could you receive as much as $1,113 every in Florida, only $875. In Colorado, $1,218. And in Louisiana, $847. In New Orleans, Cindy Moffett says she relies on that money. $600 is important to a lot of households, especially to my household that cannot go back to work. Reporter: Everyone agrees that the economy battered by the pandemic needs more help. The economy took a hit like we have never seen before. Faster, deeper than anything that has come before. Worse than the worst year of the great depression. Reporter: Tonight, with 25 states and Puerto Rico either pausing or reversing reopening plans, unprecedented levels of uncertainty about when the economy will recover and people can go back to work. One in five workers, more than 30 million people are still off the job. But Washington is divided over whether to continue these payments. Senate Republicans think that $600 is too much. That it discourages people from going back to work. Pointing out that with this added benefit, some Americans are bringing in more money now than they would if they were working. We can't give people a disincentive to go back to work. We'll never recover from this if we're all at home watching Netflix. At this point, I would not support something that would pay on unemployment more than you would earn if you were working. Reporter: The treasury secretary suggested they lower the payment to 70% of a worker's wages before they were laid off. If you were making $300, you're not going to get $600 this time. And that's fair. People understand that. Reporter: Republicans were expected to outline their plan today, but the party is still debating. What do you say to Americans who are concerned that without any additional federal funding they're really going to suffer? We've talked about adding $200 per week into our proposal. And so, with that, if it's200, rather than '600, it gives them 200 dollars over what they're going to get over their state unemployment benefits. Reporter: Not surprisingly -- We have to act on what they're proposing falls far Reporter: Democrats disagree with Republicans. They've put forth their own plan to extend the full $600 payments until January. Republicans say it's simply They have this image that working people are lazy. They're the ones keeping the rest of us going. It's more than appalling to me. So I take every opportunity to, I want to say whack them on the side of the head. I wish I co. Reporter: Democrats say Republicans are out of touch and out of time. That money is probably the difference between their kids eating and not eating. Them falling even further behind on their rent or their mortgage payments. Americans are in desperate need right now, and we need to make sure that we provide them with the resources so they can recover. If we don't do that, our economy will never recover. Reporter: What kind of an impact do you think it will have if Americans all of a sudden aren't getting that check? That check is saving so many of our working families right many of them, they're on unemployment insurance now, no longer have health insurance through their employers. That just covers health insurance. We're going to see kids going hungry if that doesn't remain. Reporter: Republicans say they'll introduce their plan next week, but even that will be just a jumping off point. When the unemployment rate is still in double digits, and we're facing a problem like we've never faced, it's not the moment to figure out how do we cut off relief. It's critical that we maintain relief to people. Reporter: The more Washington debates and the more time passes, the more Scott's worries grow. It's going to be hard after the next month or so. Reporter: He doesn't want much, just the basic American dream. I want to protect my family. I want to make sure that they have a roof over their head and food on the table and they can
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