GOP shifting on unemployment benefits as jobless numbers swell

Faced with staggering unemployment numbers that are likely to remain elevated through the election, Senate Republicans are reversing their positions on ending a federal plus-up of state unemployment benefits after July.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) vowed in a conference call with House Republicans last month that Senate Republicans would block the $600 weekly boost to state unemployment benefits from the federal government.

Also last month, GOP senators involved in planning for a phase-four coronavirus relief bill said there was overwhelming support for entirely ending the generous federal enhancement of state unemployment benefits.

Now with the national unemployment rate projected to hit or exceed 20 percent, the highest number since the Great Depression, a growing number of GOP senators say the federal government should continue to augment weekly unemployment benefits in some form — though most want it lower than the $600 figure.

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