WASHINGTON, D.C. (WIS) - Republican Senators Tim Scott, Lindsey Graham, Ben Sasse, and Rick Scott spoke to reporters on Wednesday just hours after lawmakers reached a deal to help those in need.
Early Wednesday morning, lawmakers announced an agreement was reached on a $2 trillion emergency stimulus bill, which would expand unemployment benefits for those who are out of work due to COVID-19. The bill is the largest relief bill in U.S. history.
However, there are some things within the bill that Republicans are concerned about.
“Our goal is to help this bill get to the finish line as fast as possible,” said Sen. Tim Scott (R-South Carolina). “I am in support of this legislation.”
However, Scott and fellow South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham noted that some of the benefits in the bill could be detrimental, especially in the Palmetto State.
“We cannot encourage people to make more money in unemployment than they do in employment,” Scott said. “As an example, in South Carolina, the average unemployment or the maximum unemployment is about $326 a week. The way we understand the legislation, the $326 on top of that would be $600 a week. Said differently, somebody could make $926 a week. The way that the legislation is written, the person who makes less than that would make that anyway.”
According to Scott, the legislation would allow those who are unemployed to make more than they could if they were employed. So, lawmakers are working to draft an amendment to fix what Scott and other lawmakers are calling a “drafting error.”
“Under this proposal that they agreed to last night, on umemployment, you would be making $24.07 an hour in South Carolina. There are a lot of jobs in South Carolina that do not pay $24.07. I’ve been one of the biggest advocates of helping the unemployment insurance system as part of a relief package. The maximum benefit, as Tim said, was $326. My goal was to add some federal dollars to the pot to get you back to what you were making with a cap of $600, which is an income of about $49,000. This bill pays you more not to work than if you were working. Very few people are going to turn down a $24 deal not to work, to work for $15.”
Graham argued that the unemployment benefits as drafted would make things more difficult for employers in South Carolina and around the country.
“If this is not a drafting error, then it’s the worst idea I’ve seen in a long time and that’s saying a lot given the fact that we’re in Washington,” Graham said.
Scott said he hopes for an amendment vote.
The bill will have to be passed by the House before it heads to President Trump’s desk to be signed into law.