Wary Long Islanders wait on Congress for next COVID-19 stimulus package
Congress is working on the plan to renew unemployment benefits collected by thousands of Long Islanders, but the amount of money they receive could be changing.
In March, the federal government passed legislation that allowed $600 a week in extra unemployment benefits for workers sidelined by the COVID-19 crisis.
It's not clear exactly what would be included in the next COVID-19 stimulus bill, but Hofstra economics professor Martin Melkonian says the 30 million Americans collecting unemployment should receive some additional benefit to stay afloat.
“We have to get the money in the hands of the public. And unless that's done, and it's done fairly quickly, there's going to be a period in which the economy can turn further downward,” he told News 12.
So far, Republicans in Washington still have not agreed on their own version of a stimulus bill, which then must be presented to Democrats for negotiations. That was expected to happen late this week, but now it looks like the first draft won't be ready until Monday.
Rebecca Sanin, with the Health and Welfare Council of Long Island, says every day politicians wait is another day families might not be able to pay their bills.
“People who were struggling before are now in crisis. People who were making ends meet are now struggling in new ways for the first time,” says Sanin.
Long Island officials have said the next stimulus bill should also include payments to state and local governments in areas hit hard by coronavirus.