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No deal on unemployment benefits as deadline looms

Published: Jul. 23, 2020 at 10:06 PM EDT
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ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ) - Expanded unemployment benefits are set to expire at the end of next week, and so far there is no deal on the next round of COVID-19 relief.

Members of Virginia’s congressional delegation say they’re optimistic a deal is within reach, though not necessarily by the end of next week.

“I just want dollars to go to people who are hard hit right now,” said Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Virginia), “and that’s got to be the core of what we pass.”

Wednesday, Kaine told reporters he’s open to considering the best way to help unemployed Americans, but he said hardship assistance to individuals and families has to be a priority.

6th District Congressman Ben Cline (R-Lexington) said any aid must be targeted where it’s needed the most.

“Whether it’s to schools or small businesses or to folks who are truly in dire circumstances,” Cline said during a telephone interview Thursday afternoon.

9th District Congressman Morgan Griffith (R-Salem) said a compromise is possible, but a blanket extension of the $600 enhancement isn’t the answer.

“That was done as an emergency,” Griffith said Wednesday. “Now we have more time to reflect on it, and I hope we’ll be able to negotiate something that makes sense for all of the American people, those who are truly out of work and those who are trying to hire people back and get our economy going.”

Senator Mark Warner (D-Virginia) said ending the $600 benefit abruptly could throw the economy into chaos. He said he supports a gradual transition once the economy improves.

“Yes, we’ll need to wean off these programs,” Warner said Thursday afternoon, “but to say all that support is going to come to an end July 31st doesn’t make any sense to me.”

One thing they agree on is that a deal is possible.

It might not happen before July 31, but they say we should see an agreement soon.

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