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Monday, September 28, 2020 2:11am

Coronavirus relief must focus on jobs, not ‘force’ people to choose between work and unemployment, Hawley says



The coronavirus relief package should focus on jobs, not some “$3-plus trillion dollars of bailout money” for blue states to use for “special interest lobbying projects,” Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., told “Fox & Friends” Wednesday.

The Missouri Republican made the comments days after talks on Phase 4 coronavirus relief stalled in the Senate as boosted unemployment benefits expired, referring to the House’s “Heroes Act,” the most expensive legislation approved by that body in history.

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“Unemployment levels have been forcing them to choose between going back to work or actually getting unemployment benefits. That was dumb policy to begin with,” Hawley said. “My view is that whatever level we set the unemployment benefits at, people ought to be able to take some of that benefit with them back to work.”

“I mean why would you make people choose between getting the support they need if they’re out of a job and actually going and looking for a job,” he added. “We want people to go back to work … nobody wants to be unemployed, and yet the policy we’ve had for months has basically forced people to choose, so that needs to end.”

Senate Republicans unveiled the “HEALS Act,” their version of a fresh round of coronavirus relief last week, a $1 trillion alternative to the $3 trillion House bill. HEALS stands for the package’s focus on Health, Economic Assistance, Liability protection and Schools.

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“It’s not clear to me that [Democrats] actually want to do anything about any further relief, but my view is this: Any further relief by Congress has got to focus on jobs, it’s got to focus on getting people back to work, it’s got to focus on getting businesses reopened, and getting folks their job security back,” Hawley said.

On Sunday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said the two sides can’t even agree on the basics. She did not seem willing to compromise on the extra $600 a week.

“What we’ve seen is a lot of stringing this along, ever-shifting goalposts in negotiation. I can tell you right now, there is no way I’m voting for $3-plus trillion dollars of bailout money for blue states of spending on special interest lobbying projects,” Hawley said. “Forget it. That’s not going to help anybody.”

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White House trade adviser Peter Navarro said Pelosi and the Democrats “might be using workers as hostages” to get the “big deal that they want,” Monday on “America’s Newsroom.”

“What Missouri needs is jobs,” Hawley concluded. “What we’ve got to do is get people back to work. Our unemployment numbers are too high thanks to those government lockdowns. We’ve got way too many people who are out of work. We’ve got to get people working again. We’ve got to get them back on the job. We’ve got to get the economy reopened. That’s what we ought to be focused on. That’s not what the Democrats are focused on.”



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