Blockade in the US Congress to renew the unemployment aid program | International

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A woman comes out of an employment office in Washington.SAUL LOEB / AFP

The United States Congress is at a crossroads before the unemployment aid program that expired at midnight this Friday. Lawmakers have failed to close a deal on whether to extend subsidies to millions of Americans who have lost their jobs due to the downturn in the economy as the pandemic progresses. The talks, despite the expiration of the term, will continue this Saturday, according to Reuters. In late March, the Legislature approved a grant of $ 600 a week for the unemployed, a breath of air for 17 million people. The economy, which fell 9.5% in the last quarter, still shows no clear signs of recovery, so a new budget to boost it will be necessary. However, lawmakers were still unable to agree on the plan's fine print within hours of the program being suspended.

Democrats are proposing an extension of the same program approved in March, which in addition to unemployment insurance also includes help for those who cannot pay their mortgages until next year. The Democratic approach assumes that the greater the aid, the less need there is for millions of Americans to take to the streets during the pandemic. As of this Friday, about 4.5 million infections have been registered across the country and some 152,000 people have died from covid-19, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

Instead, the Republican approach aims to reduce the amount the State gives to the unemployed to $ 200 a week, but also adds resources to support small businesses and tax benefits for companies. Lawmakers from both parties know that government aid has become one of the key axes to get the economy ahead. The Labor Department revealed Thursday that 1.43 million people have registered as unemployed in the past week and that in the past 19 weeks the record has never been below 1 million.

The historic rivalry in Congress puts the country's economic stability at risk. If resources do not reach the hands of the unemployed, there could be a significant drop in consumption, one of the pillars of the US economy. Aware of the importance of the aid program, the White House has also entered into the negotiation that until now remains stuck. The Trump Administration has sought to focus the program only on weekly aid of $ 600, leaving out other aspects that are also financially affecting the lives of citizens. Democrats have flatly refused the White House proposal.

"The proposals we made were not very well received," Mark Meadows, Trump's chief of staff, told reporters, saying he made "at least four proposals" to Democrats who were rejected. The bipartisan negotiations are still far from reaching an agreement, leaders of both parties have commented. During Thursday afternoon, Meadows raised a suggestion from Trump in which he offered to extend the aid program for another week, as approved in March, to have one more week for negotiations between the legislators. Democrats also rejected this proposal. Nancy Pelosi, the Democratic leader in the House of Representatives, explained that she would only have accepted it if the negotiations were "on the way to an agreement." "But they are not," settled the legislator.

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