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Unemployed Kansans face uncertainty with end of federal benefit

Published: Jul. 31, 2020 at 5:07 PM CDT
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WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) - Millions of Americans are losing their extra $600 per week in federal benefits available through the CARES Act after Friday (July 31). This comes as fighting between the White House and congress continues, preventing a deal on the next COVID-19 package.

Democratic leaders will meet with White House negotiators again Saturday (Aug. 1) to continue talks to try to find common ground. In the meantime, many unemployed Kansans are wondering what’s next now that the weekly benefit that’s helped them get by is gone.

U.S. Senator Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) said it could be a while before they find out.

“There’s not a lot of common ground at the moment,” Moran said.

For Kansans like Victoria French, there’s added frustration as the weekly benefit ended last week.

“The $600 has helped me maintain my lifestyle,” she said. “I’ve paid the bills on time. I made sure rent was paid, utilities were paid, cable, car payment.”

Without the weekly assistance, Desdia Clarke, who had to close her bar and grill in Jetmore, will only receive $122 per week.

“You can’t do a whole lot with that,” she said. “My husband does work, but his paycheck alone doesn’t pay all of our bills.”

Moran said he believes the solution is not to dump money into another federal aid package. Instead, “by doing the things necessary, investing in a (COVID-19) vaccine and it’s research,” he said.

The senator said a key sticking point in discussions concerning another releif package is that some people made more money from the $600 weekly payment than they did while working. Moran said he fears this could prevent them from returning to work.

French and Clarke said this isn’t the case for them. Without a replacement or extension of the federal unemployment benefit, both French and Clarke say they’re unsure what’s next and they hope lawmakers in Washington can come to a decision soon so they can start planning their next move.

Copyright 2020 KWCH. All rights reserved.

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