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Warner, Wyden leading effort to extend two critical COVID-19 relief programs

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The Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program and the Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation are set to expire on Dec. 26, forcing nearly 12 million workers to lose coverage once these programs expire over the holidays.

U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner (D-VA) and Ron Wyden (D-OR) are leading an effort to urge Senate leaders to include extensions for both in the next COVID-19 relief package.

“As the virus surges going into the winter months, the loss of benefits at this time is particularly cruel,” the senators noted in a letter to Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Minority Leader Chuck Schumer dated Dec. 1.

PUA provides unemployment assistance to domestic workers, freelance workers, contractors, and other workers in alternative work arrangements. PEUC provides a 13-week extension of benefits for those whose regular unemployment benefits have expired but are still struggling to find employment during the pandemic.

“For many, the knowledge of this benefits cliff will hang over them while they celebrate Christmas morning, share a meal for Christmas dinner, or observe other holidays with their families in the middle of what has already been a difficult and tragic year. Those who are socially distancing from their families for their safety as well as the nation’s overall public health will likely experience this loss of federal financial assistance entirely alone,” the senators wrote.

More than 8 million Americans have slipped into poverty since the beginning of the pandemic, one in six adults with children report that their household did not have enough to eat in the last seven days, and 30 percent of households with children are not caught up with their rent payments.

“In other words, going into this holiday season, millions of additional American families are living below the poverty line, unable to provide sufficient food for their households and likely facing evictions from their home,” the senators wrote.

augusta free press
augusta free press