Unemployment benefits end next week. It may be too late for Congress to stop it, experts say


  • Senate Democrats reached an agreement on extending unemployment benefits in the $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief bill.
  • Unemployment benefits are scheduled to end March 14 for many workers. The Covid relief bill would extend the deadline by several months.
  • A multi-week gap in benefits is almost inevitable for a subset of people even if Biden gets the legislation in time.

Senate Democrats reached an agreement Friday on extending unemployment benefits in the $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief bill.

They will now look to get that pandemic aid bill to President Joe Biden in time to prevent a gap in unemployment benefits.

It’s perhaps too late to stop that from happening, according to some experts.

“The unfortunate reality is, we waited a little too long,” said Elizabeth Pancotti, an unemployment expert and policy advisor at Employ America. “They needed a bill to [President Biden] by about Valentine’s Day.”

Democrats approved the unemployment change in a party line vote during a marathon of votes on amendments. The House now aims to approve the Senate version of the plan by next week and send it to Biden to sign into law.

Democrats look to pass their latest rescue package before March 14, the day when the current $300 per week unemployment benefit expires. However, the delays Friday threatened its quick passage as the deadline approaches.

Absent another extension, millions of long-term unemployed would lose income support — falling off the so-called benefits cliff.

More from Personal Finance:
Some workers never got the last round of extended benefits
There are new PPP rules for self-employed and gig workers
With 4 million Americans long-term unemployed, benefits cliff looms

More than 18 million total Americans were collecting jobless aid as of mid-February, according to Labor Department data.

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Senate Democrats on Friday agreed to extend unemployment benefits through Sept. 6 and pay an extra $300 a week, according to NBC News. (They would also make the first $10,200 in unemployment aid non-taxable to prevent surprise bills. The provision will apply to households with incomes under $150,000.)

They hope to pass the legislation this weekend.

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