Unemployment Remains High As Republicans Block Relief Bill

Mitch McConnell, Donald Trump

Donald Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell

Official White House Photo by Shealah Craighead

Thursday's unemployment data showed that 1.6 million Americans filed new unemployment or Pandemic Unemployment Assistance claims last week, even as Senate Republicans continue to block a House-passed bill that would provide trillions in emergency relief funds.

While the number of people filing traditional unemployment claims — about 881,000 — was down a bit from the previous week, layoffs remained high. When combined with Pandemic Unemployment Assistance claims, the number of total new unemployment claims was higher than the previous week.

Tens of millions of Americans remain out of work.

In May, the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives passed a $3 trillion relief bill, with funds to address both the coronavirus pandemic and the economic meltdown it has fueled.

But Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell refused to even allow a vote on the bill in the Republican-controlled Senate, mocking it as "dead on arrival" and "not serious."

Instead, the Senate spent its time confirming Donald Trump's nominees and taking several recesses. Last month, McConnell (R-KY) bragged that his decision to pass no relief legislation was "the reasonable thing to do" because doing so "allowed us to learn the coronavirus didn't mysteriously disappear."

Congressional Democrats then proposed a $2 trillion compromise which the Trump administration rejected. McConnell opted to send senators home, rather than pass anything.

Senate Republicans will reportedly consider a $500 billion proposal next week instead. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said Thursday that the GOP proposal was "emaciated" and "completely inadequate" for the nation's needs.

Rather than keep his promise to focus on jobs, meanwhile, Trump has continued to ignore the problem, insisting that the economy is strong.

On Tuesday, he baselessly claimed that the economy was not just fully recovering (in a "V" shape"), but was actually "doing well."

"We have tremendous — I tell you, we have tremendous — what would you say is the best word? The enthusiasm for the country, the enthusiasm for the comeback — the 'V,'" he told reporters. "You look at the 'V.' Now I think it's a 'Super V.'"

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.

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