Statement of Congressman Danny K. Davis at Press Event to Extend $600 Unemployment Supplement
July 22, 2020
I want to thank the National Employment Law Project, Moms Rising, Move On, and the Center for Popular Democracy for gathering us today.
These past months have demonstrated with unblinking clarity the impact of systemic racism on every aspect of our society. We cannot mince words. A Republican failure to continue the $600-a-week federal unemployment supplement would represent a racially-discriminatory action. Period.
African Americans and Latinos make up a disproportionate share of essential workers, of those hospitalized by the virus, of those dying from the virus, and of those bracing for evictions. We cannot allow Republicans to take a color-blind position on who is harmed by cutting off the $600 supplement for unemployed workers.
Unemployed individuals don’t work because they CAN’T work. They can’t work because it’s dangerous, because there is no work, or because they lack child care. These workers and their families rely on the federal benefits to pay rent, buy food, and cover medical expenses.
The House passed an extension of the $600 back in May, and the Senate Republicans and President have yet to act while millions of Americans teeter on the edge. I reject the idea that we could let the $600 supplement expire and just give these Americans some help after the fact. Retroactive benefits are not the same. You can’t eat retroactively. You can’t afford your medicine retroactively. Businesses can’t retroactively benefit from the weeks of lost spending.
The harm to families and businesses is not theoretical. In the last recession, we let emergency unemployment benefits lapse and the harm to individuals and retailers was immediate and substantial. In Illinois, if Republicans let the $600 expire, the average weekly benefit cut will be 63%.
Hardworking American workers deserve relief. We must protect workers and families and continue the $600 federal unemployment supplement before July 31st.