Durbin: I Reject Notion That $600 A Week Keeps People From Going Back To Work

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senate Democratic Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL) today slammed Senate Republicans’ and President Donald Trump’s proposed partisan coronavirus response legislation, and the lack of Senate action to save expanded federal unemployment benefits which are set to expire tomorrow.  In a speech on the Senate floor, Durbin called out Republicans’ plan to cut the $600 weekly federal unemployment benefit to $200 per week.

“There are people prepared to go back to work. And I happen to believe that many of these people see returning to work as the right thing to do for them economically. Unemployment [benefits] cannot last forever. They know that. And secondly, it may not be meeting their needs as a family. And third, the job itself may be something they invested part of their life into and want to continue. And fourth, there may be benefits in that workplace that aren't available even through the unemployment system available today. So I reject the notion, this urban legend, that $600 a week is so much that people are turning down the opportunity to go back to work. It's not an urban legend. It's an urban lie.”

Nationwide, as many as 30 million Americans are relying on enhanced unemployment benefits to put food on the table and pay for rent and health care.  Since the beginning of March, about 1.7 million unemployment claims have been filed in Illinois, which is nearly ten times the number of claims processed during the same period one year ago.  As of July 11, 2020, more than 800,000 Illinoisans were claiming some form of unemployment benefits.

“Facing the worst public health crisis that we have seen in a century. Realizing what it's done to each and every one of our lives and families. Understanding how devastating it must be to lose a job in the midst of this. Sometimes people for the first time aren't working.  Realizing how desperate these families are to keep things together.  Are we really going to walk away from them? I think it's time for Senator McConnell to sit down with the Democratic leaders. There is no alternative to this,” Durbin concluded.

Video of Durbin’s remarks on the Senate floor is available here.

Audio of Durbin’s remarks on the Senate floor is available here.

Footage of Durbin’s remarks on the Senate floor is available here for TV Stations.