Washington

White House: States have ‘every right’ to end supercharged unemployment benefits


The White House on Friday said Republican-led states have “every right” to end supercharged federal unemployment benefits ahead of a September expiration date.

“Those governors, who have made the decision — as they have every right to do — to pull back on unemployment benefits … that hasn’t even taken effect,” press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters at the White House. “So in terms of how we’re evaluating the impact — we haven’t even seen the impact yet.”

Ms. Psaki said if the administration believed the benefits were hindering employment, it would be trying to end them faster than the current September expiration date.

“We’re not,” she said. “I think the question is, do you think Americans, given 7 million are still out of work or more than that, could benefit from eight more weeks or 10 more weeks of these $300 unemployment benefits? Our view is they can and they should.”

“Some governors disagree — that’s OK,” she said. “At the end of the day, in early September, these benefits will no longer be a part of the plan.”

Earlier at the press briefing, White House economic adviser Brian Deese sidestepped a question on whether more states should consider cutting off the extra benefits early as the economy returns from the coronavirus shutdowns.

“The temporary boost is slated to now expire in 90 days and, as the president said, that’s appropriate,” Mr. Deese said.

President Biden and the White House had previously pushed back strongly on the notion that the benefits, which were extended into early September as part of the president’s $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package, were keeping people from returning to the workforce.

At least 25 states have announced they will end the enhanced benefits early, saying the $300-per-week federal boost to regular unemployment checks is making it more lucrative in many cases for people to take the benefits rather than return to work.

Some states are using some of their federal COVID-19 relief money for “back-to-work bonuses” for people who get off unemployment and find and keep a job, instead of handing out the boosted unemployment checks.

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