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Congress rolls out bill to extend UI programs

Yahoo Finance's Jessica Smith joins Kristin Myers to discuss Congress's proposed bill to extend UI programs into the new year.

Video Transcript

KRISTIN MYERS: Well, as we hear rumblings about stimulus talk, we actually have unemployment benefits that are set to expire by the end of the year. We have Yahoo Finance's Jessica Smith here with more details. Hey, Jess.

JESSICA SMITH: Hey, Kristin. Yeah, there are two unemployment insurance programs that are set to expire by the end of the year. One gives gig workers access to benefits. The other gives workers 13 weeks of extra benefits as this pandemic continues to drag on. But those are set to expire the day after Christmas. So now, there is this push in Washington to extend those programs. More than 30 Democratic senators wrote to Senate leaders today asking them to extend the programs to include that in any coronavirus relief package that we might see.

And then separately, a few Democratic senators unveiled a new bill today that would extend those programs and it would bring back that extra $600 per week in unemployment benefits that expired earlier this year. I did just get off the phone a short time ago with the senators who are putting this forward-- that's Senator Ron Wyden, Sherrod Brown, and Michael Bennet-- and they said that it's just unacceptable to keep going down this path where we have these cliffs that could send all of these workers, these laid off workers, into poverty if they don't have those benefits.

So what their bill would do is extend those programs and tie them to economic conditions on the ground. So the programs would stay in place until the three month average national unemployment rate falls below 5.5%. And then they would remain in place in certain states, where the unemployment rate is still higher. And then again, it would retroactively bring back that $600 weekly boost.

That is something that Republicans are likely to oppose. They have fought the idea of bringing back that $600 boost throughout these negotiations. So that means this bill could face a really uncertain future in the Senate. I don't think that Republicans would get on board with it.

But we did hear from President-elect Biden just in the past few minutes, and he says anything, any stimulus bill that has passed in a lame duck session will likely just be the start. And they will have to do more when he takes office in January when the new Congress comes in. And he's announcing his economic team right now. And he says that that transition team is already working on the plan that he's going to put forward to try and bring back the economy that has just been hammered from the pandemic. Kristin.

KRISTIN MYERS: All right, Jessica Smith with all of those updates. Thank you so much.