Republicans face looming unemployment dilemma

“We’re never going to recover economically from the pandemic if everybody is at home watching Netflix,” said Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.). “The way we’re doing it now … has as much chance of passing as my son has of getting a Porsche for his birthday. Not going to happen. Nonnegotiable.”

Fights over unemployment benefits amid a recession have long been politically charged, pitting the need to aid a reeling population against against Republicans’ decadeslong efforts to shrink government. And some in the GOP concede that Congress can’t just cut off that relief money cold turkey.

Particularly if Senate Republicans want to hold onto their majority in November, they risk being seen as giving short shrift to so many jobless Americans three months before the election.

“The unemployment rate is still going to be pretty high, maybe for some time. Even as the economy starts to open up and expand again, it will take a while for some of the jobs to come back,” said Senate Majority Whip John Thune (R-S.D.). “So I suspect the program will be needed for a while. We’ll have to come up [with] some sort of solution.”