Proposal aims to extend unemployment benefits for duration of pandemic

WASHINGTON — A new bicameral legislative proposal aims to extend unemployment benefits during the duration of the pandemic.

It expands on the benefits provided under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security, or CARES, Act.

Congress passed the CARES Act in March, allowing people to get unemployment benefits longer and gives an additional $600 a week.

The sponsors of the new proposal called the “Worker Relief and Security Act” said the relief under the CARES Act will start to expire this summer leading to this legislation.

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According to the draft legislation we obtained, it would extend full unemployment benefits throughout the “extreme social distancing period” plus another 26 weeks after it ends.

The $600 a week booster would last until 30 days after the president ends the emergency declaration.

Sen. Jack Reed, D-R.I., Sen. Michael Bennet, D-Colo., and Rep. Don Beyer, D-Va., are sponsoring the legislation.

The latest numbers show 20.5 million people lost their jobs last month and 14.7% applied for unemployment benefits.

Patrick Berrier has been trying to get unemployment benefits since April 1 after losing his job but still has not received the money.

"Filing for unemployment has been a horrific experience,” Berrier said. "It's not a whole lot of answers. Just a whole lot of waiting and seeing and filing different claims every week."

Berrier lost his job working in sales for a trucking company in Nashville, Tennessee.

He has since gotten a new job but hopes lawmakers streamline the process for those still in need.

“I would not wish this on anyone and unfortunately it’s affecting millions and millions of people right now.”