Hannity challenges Mnuchin on coronavirus bill: Expanding unemployment benefits ‘angers my audience’

Fox News host Sean Hannity challenged Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin on the expansion of unemployment benefits in the $2 trillion coronavirus stimulus package passed by the Senate, saying some people are “going to make more money unemployed” than by remaining in the workforce.

Hannity said he supported helping Americans impacted by the spreading coronavirus, but questioned whether the bill’s provision expanding unemployment benefits by $600 was necessary.

“This idea that you’re going to make more money unemployed, that angers my audience. That angers me too,” said Hannity, a staunch supporter of the president. “Why couldn’t somebody just have to show a pay stub, and that’s the money you’re going to get?”

“Sean, you’re right. It angers me, too,” Mnuchin replied. “But the problem is the states have computer systems in unemployment that are 35 years old. And, unfortunately, we need to get the money out fast, we couldn’t reprogram these things.”

“So the simplest way was, and the fairest way was, $600 per person. In certain states that may be a little bit too much money,” he continued. “In other states, it’s less. It’s not a perfect system. But the president’s objective was to make sure we get money in people’s hands. And as I said, waiting four months to reprogram systems, that doesn’t do us any good.”

“Our focus was delivering money quickly to the American public,” Mnuchin also said.

Late Wednesday, the Senate passed by a 96-0 vote a stimulus package aimed at jump-starting an economy devastated by the coronavirus crisis, providing aid for people impacted economically, as well as small businesses and industries.

The bill provides four months of bolstered unemployment benefits, which are increased by $600, but the provision sparked an eleventh-hour fight, with four GOP senators pushing for changes. Their proposed amendment ultimately failed to pass the Senate.

Data on Thursday showed weekly claims for unemployment insurance surged to a record 3.3 million between March 15 and 22.

“This is not even a stimulus package. It is emergency relief. Emergency relief. That’s what this is,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said Wednesday ahead of the vote.

Tags Mitch McConnell Sean Hannity Steven Mnuchin

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