S.C. residents wait to see what’s in new stimulus bill
COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - On Sunday, in an interview with Fox News Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) was asked about the prospects of a phase 4, coronavirus stimulus bill, and he said, "half of the Republicans are going to vote 'no' any more aid. That's just a fact."
According to reports, a lot of Republicans don't want to spend more on a stimulus bill or to increase the deficit.
But even with the full support of the Republican party in the Senate, GOP leaders would need at least seven Democrats to vote with their bill to reach the needed 60 votes to pass the chamber. Considering that is unlikely, Democrats will have more leverage over the bill, which could lead to extended negotiations.
A delay in any sort of extra funding worries Tracy Lee. She's a currently unemployed Mother whose son has a disease that puts him at heightened risk of getting seriously ill from COVID-19. Before the pandemic, she drove for Lyft and a cab company while making extra money from writing books.
The first round of stimulus checks and extra unemployment insurance helped her stay afloat.
When asked what she is going to do without it when the program runs out this week, she simply said, "I don't know. Keep praying? But we will figure something out."
One of the major disagreements between the lawmakers is the amount of pandemic unemployment assistance they should give out this round. In a previous bill, the CARES Act, $600 of extra funding was given to every who was receiving unemployment insurance. At the time, Senators like Graham complained this was too much and would discourage some people from going back to work because they were making more money by filing for unemployment.
This time, the GOP's bill, the HEALS Act, is proposing only giving out an extra $200 through September. However, starting October the bill would give people who are unemployed 70% of their preexisting wages. However, according to reports this is challenging for states to do, which is why the bill allocates that extra couple of months.
Lee disagrees with Graham and other's argument. She would like to go back to work, but she can't because of the pandemic, and the extra $600 wasn't too much. She said it added up to about how much she used to make.
"Going back into the work field won't happen I have a son who has Alagille Syndrome. He has a heart, lung and kidney disease, I will not bring COVID-19 into my home," Lee said.
However, local business owner Jamil Salaymeh agrees with Graham. He says he's been understaffed in the past couple of months, and thinks the qualified applicants that used to apply to be tow truck drivers at his company are opting to stay at home and receive unemployment.
"Usually we can hire people in two or weeks or so, maybe a maximum of a month. But we have been looking for three months solid, but it's hard to find people that fit the requirements," Salaymeh said.
He emphasized it's just his theory that the unemployment insurance was making it harder to find new employees, but he is hopeful with the extra funding come to an end this week will change his luck.
"I have a feeling in the next couple of weeks we are going to have a lot of people coming in looking for jobs," he said.
Other South Carolinians are in the middle. One restaurant worker asking for anonymity not to upset their place of work, said they are struggling to make ends meet despite having their jobs back. They say tips are down, wages have been decreased, and they are often assigned less hours than they are used to. Therefore, they are often unable to apply for the extra pandemic unemployment assistance to help make ends meet, but don't want to quit their jobs or lose their health insurance.
Lee thinks anyone who can work, plans to and it is often a more psychological decision than a financial one.
“I’m tired of being in the house, I want to go outside,” she said.
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