TOPEKA — U.S. Rep. Sharice Davids said partisan bickering meant the supplemental $600 weekly unemployment benefit extended by Congress during the pandemic will expire and place needy families in greater jeopardy.
Authorization for the additional jobless aid ended at midnight Friday with Democrats in the U.S. House and Republicans in the U.S. Senate unable to reach a deal on the next coronavirus stimulus bill.
“It’s incredibly frustrating that even as emergency aid programs are set to expire today, they are still nowhere near a deal. This is the same partisan Washington that Kansans are sick of,” said Davids, a Democrat who serves the 3rd District in the Kansas City area. “It’s time for leaders to put the politics and posturing aside and pass a bipartisan relief package, one that extends additional unemployment insurance, housing support, and paid family and medical leave.”
She said the new COVID-19 package ought to increase access to testing, protective equipment and other vital supplies. It needs to include funding to state and local governments to prevent devastating budget cuts undermining education, transportation, fire departments and public health agencies.
Meanwhile, U.S. Rep. Roger Marshall, a Kansas Republican in the 1st District and a candidate for U.S. Senate, said he signed on to a pandemic bill offered by Republicans in the U.S. Senate that provides funding for schools, health initiatives, economic assistance and liability protection for businesses.
“I’ve been in over 200 Kansas communities over the last four weeks and spoken directly with thousands of Kansans,” Marshall said. “Two of the top concerns I hear are the need for liability protections for decision makers and employers, and an inability to find workers to come back to work. We have to bring jobs back to Kansas and get Kansans safely and responsibly back to work.”
Under the Senate bill, $100 billion would be set aside to help schools and universities safely open this fall. Individuals would receive $1,200 stimulus checks. The unemployment benefit in the Senate measure would be cut from $600 weekly to $200 per week. Agriculture producers would be eligible for up to $150,000 loan forgiveness on Paycheck Protection Program loans.
U.S. Rep. Ron Estes, the 4th District congressman from Wichita, said he introduced a bill with a California congresswoman named the HITS act, which stands for Help Independent Tracks Succeed. It’s designed to allow sound recording producers deduct 100 percent of production expenses in the year they were incurred. That would give them parity with film, television and live theater productions, he said.
“The men and women who make music – either through writing, singing, playing or producing – deserve to have the same tax benefits as artists in the film, television and live theater industries,” said, a Republican. “The HITS Act is sound legislation that supports our creative communities throughout the United States and encourages music makers of all sizes and notoriety.”