Here's how Congress could avert another jobless benefits cliff as it moves to pass Covid relief

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Ultimately, the metrics serve to inform the health of the economy and labor market. And that’s important since offering generous benefits in a healthy labor market may discourage workers from finding a job and hold back a recovery.

But each approach brings distinct pros and cons.

“It’s economic, so there are always tradeoffs,” said Ernie Tedeschi, a policy economist at Evercore ISI and former senior advisor at the Treasury Department.

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President Joe Biden and congressional Democrats aim to pass a $1.9 trillion pandemic rescue package by mid-March, when current relief will end for millions of workers. While its final contours are unclear, the legislation would likely raise benefits by $400 a week through August and perhaps longer.

Biden initially called for the length and amount of relief to fall “depending on health and economic conditions,” but didn’t identify a specific trigger.  

House Democrats didn’t include such a measure in an initial legislative draft. But the Senate may opt for it, Tedeschi said. Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., chair of the Senate Finance Committee, supports the policy.

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