WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) ─ There’s increasing sentiment on Capitol Hill that lawmakers must act fast to pass another COVID-19 relief package before the end of the year, especially as millions of Americans stand to lose unemployment benefits, face eviction or default on student loans.
Sen. Chris Van Hollen, D-Maryland, said time is of the essence to contain the coronavirus pandemic’s economic fallout.
“This is just going to add to the pain,” Van Hollen said, adding that Congress must act now to prevent unemployment benefits from expiring on Dec. 31.
“The CARES Act and others provided unemployment insurance for people who are not part of our traditional unemployment system,” Van Hollen said. “Think about independent contractors, gig workers, part-time workers…they’re covered now. After Dec. 31 they won’t be covered anymore.”
Van Hollen said not passing a new relief bill could be disastrous.
“There are about 14 million Americans that are currently protected by these provisions,” Van Hollen said.
Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Connecticut, said many businesses won’t be ready to re-hire workers anytime soon.
“We desperately need to get, at the very least, those unemployment benefits extended,” Murphy said.
In addition, the federal moratorium on evictions and the ability to defer student-loan payments also disappear, placing even more financial burdens on Americans.
“We’re obviously having to start shutdowns again, which means retail businesses are going be in trouble,” Murphy said. “We have a real crisis on our hands and we need help.”
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-California, urged House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-California, to compromise on a deal.
“I would think after the politics she played and the election being over that she’d now put the American people first,” McCarthy said.