Lindsey Graham Vows GOP Will Fight Extending Covid Unemployment
By: Reed Richardson (Mediaite)
By Reed Richardson May 1st, 2020
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) staked out radical opposition to any extension of the federal government's extra $600 a week unemployment payments beyond July 31, promising that any continuation of that part of the coronavirus pandemic-based relief law would be "over our dead bodies."
Graham's charge rhetoric came at an event in his home state on Wednesday, where, sitting alongside fellow Republican Senator Tim Scott, he bemoaned the fact that some people who have been laid off are now temporarily making more money than they did when they were working because of the additional $600. But his unfortunate choice of the "dead bodies" metaphor happened on the same day that the US death toll from coronavirus crossed the 60,000 mark and a day before the Labor Department announced that the total number of unemployed in the country has surpassed 30 million.
"What have we learned? We learned that when you pay people not to work, they will take you up on it," Graham said, as both he and Scott chuckled. "It doesn't mean they're lazy. It means if you pay $23 to people not to work, they'll probably take that over $17 to go to work even though people like working."
"So July 31st is when this expires," Graham added, chopping his hands down and hardening the tone of his voice. "And I promise you, over our dead bodies this will get reauthorized. We have to stop this. You cannot turn on the economy until you get this aberration in the law fixed." Scott slightly nodded his head during Graham's threat.
During the early March debate over the first coronavirus stimulus bill, which included the extra unemployment benefit, Graham had argued for adding a provision that would've blocked people from collecting more weekly unemployment than they had been making while employed.
However, with some economic experts predicting a catastrophic second quarter GDP and ongoing shockwaves rippling throughout the rest of 2020, one House Democrat has proposed extending the additional federal unemployment benefit until December 31st. But Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has already signaled his opposition to fully reauthorizing the original relief bill, citing concerns over rising deficits from the massive spending to counteract the unprecedented impact of the worldwide Covid-19 pandemic.