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Mitch McConnell opens door to $600 unemployment benefit extension, with Trump support

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  • Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said on Tuesday he could support an extension of the $600 unemployment benefit — if Trump supports it.
  • At a weekly GOP press conference, McConnell said he could back a negotiated stimulus package containing the federal benefit.
  • “We know this is going to be a negotiated settlement… but the American people in the end need help,” he said.
  • However, Trump opposed extending the federal payout in May, and the GOP favors cutting benefits and implementing a 70% wage replacement program.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said on Tuesday that he could support an extension of the $600 federal unemployment insurance boost — if President Donald Trump ends up backing it.

At his weekly Senate Republican leadership press conference, McConnell was asked about Speaker Nancy Pelosi appearing to draw a red line on the $600 federal unemployment benefit that expired on July 31. 

“Wherever this thing settles between the president of the United States and his team, who has to sign it into law, and the Democrat, not insignificant minority in the Senate and majority in the House, is something I’m prepared to support,” McConnell told reporters. “Even if I have some problems with certain parts of it.”

Read moreLawmakers are $2 trillion apart on a coronavirus stimulus that could bring a fresh round of checks and restart boosted unemployment benefits. Here are the top obstacles to a deal.

The Kentucky senator added many Republicans would likely not vote for the final spending package if it contained the measure, which has drawn fierce GOP criticism for months.

“We know this is going to be a negotiated settlement,” McConnell said. “It’s not going to produce a kumbaya moment like we had back in March in April where everybody voted aye. But the American people in the end need help.”

The comments mark a shift in McConnell’s position towards the enhanced unemployment benefits. Republicans have long criticized the program, saying it allows many workers to earn more from the government than they would on the job.

Read more: MORGAN STANLEY: The government’s recession response has the stock market heading for a massive upheaval. Here’s your best strategy to capitalize on the shift.

The $600 federal supplement onto state unemployment checks was enacted in March under the Cares Act.

Democrats are pushing to extend it through January, arguing the economy remains weak with scarce jobs available for the millions of unemployed people. Over 30 million people are drawing unemployment benefits.

Trump, though, has opposed extending the initiative. Instead, Republicans rolled out a plan cutting the benefit to $200 for two months and transitioning it onto a 70% wage replacement scheme.

Read more: Wells Fargo lays out a plausible scenario where the Fed becomes insolvent — and breaks down the catastrophic effect that would have on the bank’s ability to handle future crises

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