House Minority Whip Jim Clyburn (D-S.C.) criticized Republicans’ ongoing push to reduce federally enhanced unemployment benefits as the coronavirus pandemic rages on.
When Clyburn appeared on CNN’s “State of the Union” on Sunday, he criticized Republicans’ priorities as he noted their advocation for business tax cuts for large corporations and businesses.
“What kind of a priority is that?” he asked. “This is people who need a tax deduction for their lunch and we cannot give the $600 supplement to unemployed people, many of them trying to take care of their children, trying to provide child care.”
He added, “There’s something out of whack here. That’s why so many people are saying the country is on the wrong track.”
Clyburn went on to express concern about Republicans’ priorities as he argued there is a lack of leadership.
“This is the kind of priority that seems to me cries out for leadership,” he added. “We need national leadership, and we’re not getting it.”
See Clyburn’s remarks below:
“We need national leadership and we’re not getting it,” Rep. James Clyburn discusses the ongoing economic stimulus negotiations amid Covid-19 unemployment benefits expiring. #CNNSOTU https://t.co/sVC6ONTQcF pic.twitter.com/NrYXDGEEKq— State of the Union (@CNNSotu) August 2, 2020
Clyburn’s latest remarks come days after the expiration of the federally enhanced unemployment benefits. Democratic and Republican lawmakers have clashed on the payment amount for the extension of unemployment benefits.
While Democratic leaders argue that the amount should remain the same, Republicans have proposed reducing the amount to $200 per week. CNN’s Dana Bash noted that Republicans did offer to extend the $600 payment for an additional week, but Democratic leaders denied the offer.
According to Clyburn, the Democrats denied the short-term fix insisting that a “well-coordinated activity” is needed.
“That’s why we won’t do it,” the top-ranking Democrat said, adding the Senate has had months to discuss the proposed HEROES Act.
Clyburn also accused Republican leaders of “playing games” and attempting to “jerk” people around.
“They’re the ones that are playing games with us,” Clyburn said. “We don’t want to jerk the American people around.”
Months ago, Republican leaders opted to “pause” discussions about the next coronavirus bill insisting they wanted to see the results of the earlier bills on the U.S. economy. Republicans have also argued that the enhanced unemployment payments have disincentivized returning to work.
However, during their pause, the United States entered what Dr. Deborah Birx describes as a “new phase” of the coronavirus pandemic with a significant increase in coronavirus cases.
As of Monday morning, there are more than 4.8 million confirmed coronavirus cases in the country.