Trump punishes blue states on disaster unemployment aid

Well no surprise, HERE!

Trump punishes blue states on disaster unemployment aid

Wednesday March 25, 2020 · 11:34 AM EDT Recommend 68  Share  Tweet34 Comments 34 New

WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 19: U.S. President Donald Trump answers reporters' questions during a news conference with members of his Coronavirus Task Force in the Brady Press Briefing Room at the White House March 19, 2020 in Washington, DC. With Americans testing positive from coronavirus rising President Trump is asking Congress for $1 trillion aid package to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic.  (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

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Impeached president Donald Trump is taking his war on blue states to a new level. He has declared California, New York, and Washington state coronavirus disaster areas, but has so far refused to release a key part of that designation: unemployment assistance.

That’s specific, disaster-related unemployment insurance to go to workers who aren’t eligible for traditional UI, like gig economy workers. Under the program, they can receive 26 weeks of benefits if their job loss is a result of the disaster, either because their position has been eliminated or they can’t get to their job site. When the disaster was declared—March 20 in New York and March 22 in California and Washington—the Federal Emergency Management Agency said that “federal emergency aid has been made available.” The unemployment funds, however, have not been released.

Politico reports that the only aid the administration has released to the three states has been for “crisis counseling,” and that a “senior administration official said the administration is holding off on approving requests for disaster unemployment assistance because it anticipates Congress will provide similar protections in the coronavirus stimulus package under negotiation.” Given the flux we’ve seen in the last five days on that legislation, that’s a bullshit excuse.

“We appreciate that the federal government has recognized the severity of the public health emergency,” Washington Gov. Jay Inslee said; however, that declaration did not “unlock many forms of federal assistance we have requested to help workers.” Jack Sterne, a spokesperson for New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, added, “It is time for the federal government to provide Disaster Unemployment Assistance to New Yorkers.”

Inslee and three other governors—Mike Dunleavy (R-Alaska), Mike DeWine (R-Ohio), and J.B. Pritzker (D-Illinois)—wrote to Trump on Tuesday, urging him to free up the funds and move faster in declaring disasters for all their states. “Even as states enact policies to flexibly provide unemployment insurance to those in need,” the governors wrote, “we are still leaving many hourly and independent workers behind who desperately need assistance during this crisis.”

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