Several Democrats have signaled reluctance to extending enhanced federal unemployment benefits past September following a disappointing April jobs report, Politico reported on Tuesday.
“I’ll never vote for another extension as long as I know that with the vaccines, there’s not an excuse for no one to be vaccinated,” Senator Joe Manchin (D., W.Va.), told Politico. “I understand there’s millions of jobs in America that we can’t fill right now. So we need people back to work. There’s more and more people understanding they’re in trouble.”
Senator Jon Tester (D., Mont.) indicated he was not opposed to Montana governor Greg Gianforte’s decision to opt out of the enhanced benefits at the end of June. Gianforte is one of several Republican governors who support opting out of the program.
“I don’t think that’s unreasonable,” Tester said. “But it’s Montana, and I can’t tell you if that same thing would apply in Vermont or in Nevada.”
Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D., N.H.) also said that in her state “the unemployment rate is pretty low at this point” and that if unemployment remains low, enhanced benefits “probably should not be extended.”
The comments come after April saw an increase of just 266,000 jobs after economists predicted gains of roughly 1 million jobs. Republicans, citing the more than 7 million existing job openings, have blamed the discrepancy on continued federal unemployment benefits of $300 a month, which are set to continue until September 6.
President Biden has denied that the enhanced benefits contributed to lackluster job growth last month. However, Biden said on Monday that his administration would push Americans currently collecting unemployment to find a job.
“We’re going to make it clear that anyone collecting unemployment who is offered a suitable job must take the job or lose their unemployment benefits,” Biden said.