By BROOKE SNAVELY
CENTRAL OREGON DAILY
Congress approved a bill temporarily funding the government today, averting a government shutdown.
The funding extension gives negotiators time to continue working on new COVID relief aid, possibly extending enhanced unemployment benefits.
But the future is uncertain for many Oregonians who are out of work.
Tens of thousands of Oregonians could lose emergency benefits if Congress does not extend Pandemic Unemployment Assistance and Emergency Unemployment Compensation programs.
“Now, on the day after Christmas, 12 million Americans are going to be kicked off unemployment when the CARES Act programs expire. That includes 70,000 Oregonians,” Senator Ron Wyden said. “That’s enough to fill MODA four times over.”
Wyden says he’s introduced legislation to reinstate the $600 federal unemployment benefit and extend other assistance programs for as long as the crisis continues, but the uncertainty is not helping people who are on the brink of being cut off.
“I think there’s going to be enormous hurt if nothing is done and at the end of the year everything expires,” Wyden said. “There’s going to be enormous hurt immediately.”
Earlier this year, three eastside Baldy’s BBQ employees quit voluntarily, and went on unemployment but have since found work in other industries.
They’re manager is pleased they escaped looming uncertainty.
“I feel like they got very lucky. That is from all the people I know or family or friends, a lot of them are still laid off from almost a year ago which is a little bit scary,” said Sarah Isaak, shift lead.
“What’s really needed is enough money so that people can make rent and pay groceries until we can get an economic package passed under a new president and a new congress,” Wyden said.
Wyden said he will remain available through the end of the year to help pass extended unemployment benefits, if the opportunity presents itself.
Even if the federal government extends emergency unemployment programs by Dec. 18, the Oregon Employment Department says a gap in payments is inevitable.