U.S. lawmakers fail to extend federal jobless benefits that are set to expire Friday.

Source: By New York Times • Posted: Sunday, August 2, 2020

Anna Moneymaker for The New York Times

A last-ditch effort to extend enhanced unemployment benefits on the eve of their expiration failed in the Senate on Thursday, after Democrats blocked a Republican bid to slash the payments by two-thirds.

With negotiations over a broader recovery package stalled, Senate Republicans tried to pass a stand-alone bill that would have continued the extra jobless aid payments through the end of the year, but slash them to $200 a week from $600.

Democrats blocked the effort and instead tried to pass the $3 trillion stimulus measure the House approved in May, which includes an extension of the full $600 benefit through January.

Republicans blocked that legislation, dismissing it as too costly and too broad in scope.

Then Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the majority leader, moved to force a vote to continue the benefits at the lower rate, in an bid to compel Democrats, who want to maintain the full payments, to go on the record opposing an extension.

The tit-for-tat exchange on the Senate floor came as senators are scheduled to leave Washington later Thursday. Without action by Friday, the benefit will expire, leaving tens of millions of Americans in limbo, after more than one million new unemployment claims were filed for the 19th week in a row and the economy recorded its worst quarter on record.

Mr. McConnell charged that Democrats were unwilling to negotiate, though he later told reporters, “We’re all still talking — we hope we can get an outcome soon.”

Democrats said the blame for the breakdown lay squarely with Republicans, who waited until just before the jobless aid was to expire to roll out their opening bid for negotiations with Democrats. Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the minority leader, declared their plan “fundamentally unworkable.”