California Democrat says it's 'cruel and inhumane' not to extend COVID-19 unemployment benefits past July

California Democrat says it's 'cruel and inhumane' not to extend COVID-19 unemployment benefits past July
© Stefani Reynolds

Rep. Mark TakanoMark Allan TakanoThe Hill's Coronavirus Report: Fauci says focus should be on pausing reopenings rather than reverting to shutdowns; WHO director pleads for international unity in pandemic response The Hill's Coronavirus Report: Teachers' union President Randi Weingarten calls Trump administration plan to reopen schools 'a train wreck'; US surpasses 3 million COVID-19 cases The Hill's Coronavirus Report: DC's Bowser says protesters and nation were 'assaulted' in front of Lafayette Square last month; Brazil's Bolsonaro, noted virus skeptic, tests positive for COVID-19 MORE (D-Calif.) said Monday that it is “cruel and inhumane” not to extend expanded COVID-19 unemployment benefits past July, when they are current expected to expire.

Takano called for the Senate to move the House-passed HEROES Act to extend the benefits, which were approved as part of an earlier coronavirus relief package, saying the reopenings amid the pandemic have “not resulted in a miraculous recovery.”

“It's complete madness, the dithering, the delay and the idea that we're gonna incentivize all these people to go back to work by taking away their unemployment benefits,” he told The Hill’s Steve Clemons. “This is a cruel and inhumane vision.”

The California Democrat predicted the economic impacts of the pandemic will be “made worse if we allow people to continue to suffer.” 

“We have to take care of our front-line essential workers who must work, who do not have the option of working at home,” he said. “We need to pay them bonus pay. We need to get the extension of another round of benefits out to people.”

Takano’s comments come as Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellMcGrath reshuffles campaign in home stretch to Senate election GOP senator draws fire from all sides on Biden, Obama-era probes Chris Wallace rips both parties for coronavirus package impasse: 'Pox on both their houses' MORE (R-Ky.) has refused to take up the HEROES Act after it was passed by the House last month, dismissing it as a Democratic wishlist.  

The HEROES Act would allow the extra $600 weekly federal unemployment benefit to continue until Jan. 31. 

More than 1.5 million people filed new jobless claims in the second week of June — the 11th consecutive week in which more than 1 million new claims were filed.

Experts say about 15 million unemployed Americans expect to go back to their jobs, but millions may not be able to do so because of the pandemic’s effects on industries.