It's been four weeks — one month — since the extra $600 per week in enhanced unemployment benefits expired, and Congress has yet to reach a deal on the next coronavirus relief package.
It could be weeks until a measure is passed. The Senate recessed on August 13, 2020 without reaching a deal, and members aren't scheduled to be back in Washington until after Labor Day.
In the meantime, about 27 million Americans still claim jobless benefits each week as the coronavirus recession rages on. More than a million new claims have been filed for 22 out of the past 23 weeks. Tens of millions of Americans are going hungry and face the looming threat of eviction. And an estimated 34.5 million households could have their utilities shut off by the end of September.
"I am now stuck sitting here wondering, how am I going to feed my kids? How am I going to take care of my bills? How am I supposed to survive?" Jon Meadows, a 28-year-old father of two in Mississippi who lost his job a few months ago, told CNBC Make It. "I hope that we get something, anything to help my family out."
President Donald Trump signed a series of executive orders at the beginning of August to bypass Congress and provide some financial relief, including extending enhanced unemployment benefits at a reduced rate of $300 per week. Here's where things stand now.
A second round of stimulus checks, worth $1,200 to $2,400, was one of the least controversial parts of a new coronavirus relief bill at the beginning of negotiations. Both Democrats and Republicans seemed on board with sending out the payments.
Now, things seem less clear. Republicans are reportedly working on a narrower coronavirus bill that includes support for enhanced unemployment benefits, more small business loans, funding for schools and more money for Covid-19 testing, treatment and vaccines. It does not include any money for stimulus checks.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), meanwhile, has said talks will not be restarted until the GOP increases total aid from $1 trillion to $2 trillion. The narrower bill cuts the figure to roughly $500 billion.
At the direction of one Trump's executive orders, the Department of Education announced it will continue to defer federal student loan payments until January 2021, providing borrowers with three additional months of relief. The interest rate on all federal loans will be set to 0% through the end of the year.
The Department of Ed also announced that borrowers with defaulted federal student loans will be protected from having their wages garnished during this time. The three month deferral will still count toward the 120 payments required of those aiming to qualify for Public Service Loan Forgiveness.
The deferral does not apply to the approximately 9 million borrowers who have private student loans.
One of President Trump's memos established the Lost Wages Assistance program, designating $44 billion of federal disaster relief funds to be used for unemployment benefits.
The majority of states, 34, have applied to and been approved by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to pay out the $300 weekly federal subsidy, including: Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, New Hampshire, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington and West Virginia.
More are expected to be approved in the coming days. South Dakota is the lone state to decline the money.
So far, Arizona, Louisiana, Missouri, Tennessee and Texas are the first states to start actually paying out the $300 weekly boost, though not without some headaches for recipients and administrators. More states will begin paying out the benefit, for the three weeks ending August 1 through August 15, in the coming days and weeks.
Kentucky and Montana will also offer an additional $100 per week, on top of the $300 from the federal government and the standard state payment.