WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) hosted a news conference call as he demands President Trump, Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and Senate Republicans help workers and families by reinstating the full additional $600 Unemployment Insurance (UI) benefit. After Republicans let this critical assistance lapse last month, and after Trump issued a inadequate executive order, McConnell, in his latest stunt released a plan to slash the UI benefit in half, from $600 to $300 per week. Meanwhile, the GOP bill includes liability shield provisions to provide immunity to corporations while they roll back workplace safety protections.
“This week, as we are supposed to be honoring Labor Day and supporting the people who make this country work, Mitch McConnell has rolled out his latest, insufficient plan. His newest proposal, like his last one, actually cuts that UI benefit, this time by $300 every week, while giving legal immunity to corporations that rollback workplace safety protections. For a whole lot of people, that $600 was the difference between being able to pay the bills, and skipping meals, or draining their savings, or turning to a payday lender,” said Brown.
Brown was joined on the call by Matthew Urch, an Ohioan who lost his job at the beginning of the pandemic but was able to make ends meet because of the enhanced UI benefit. However, his financial situation has become much more difficult as a result of Senate Republicans’ callousness in allowing this critical UI assistance to lapse.
“The $600 UI benefit was like the world was lifted off my shoulders. That assistance, while still a pay cut, had me living as close to normal as possible. I was able to pay bills on time and not worry about putting food on the table. Now, when I receive my benefits today I will have just over $200 in my account. I’m going to have to choose between my car payment that was due last week or using that money to live this week. That $600 kept me from struggling in an already hard time, and I know many families have it much worse than me,” said Urch.
Brown has been urging Senate Republicans to reinstate the full $600 in UI. Instead, McConnell and Senate Republicans let it lapse, and have proposed a plan to put corporate interests over workers by slashing the UI benefit by half while protecting corporations that violate worker safety rules.
As the Senate comes back into session this week, Brown is continuing his call to Mitch McConnell abandon his anti-worker plan and instead allow the Senate to vote on the Heroes Act, which the House passed months ago. The bill would extend unemployment benefit through January 2021, as it has become clear the lingering economic effects of the pandemic will extend into next year and continue to hurt struggling Ohioans and families if Congress does not do its job and provide assistance.
Brown is also pressing Republicans to stop introducing insufficient proposals that fail to get at the heart of the issues faced by the American people right now. Over the last several months, Republicans have either refused to negotiate in good faith to help the American people, or they’ve introduced insufficient proposals that fail to address the fact that Ohioans are struggling right now as a result of Trump’s failure to address the pandemic. Brown will continue fighting for UI assistance in any future stimulus package and will push for provisions that put Ohio workers, not Wall Street, first.