Stephanie Ferguson Stephanie Ferguson
Director, Global Employment Policy & Special Initiatives, U.S. Chamber of Commerce


December 02, 2020


This week, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell released the Senate GOP’s Targeted Relief Package. After months of stalemate, the Republican offer comes just one week before government funding runs out and a month before emergency pandemic unemployment programs end. Secretary Mnuchin has said that President Trump will sign this proposal into law, should it pass both Chambers of Congress.

Foremost, the GOP proposal addresses the two unemployment insurance (UI) programs that are set to expire on December 26, 2020. If passed, Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA), or UI for individuals that normally do not qualify for regular UI, will be extended until January 31, 2020. After the 1-month extension, an additional 2-month phase-out period will begin in which individuals may not file new claims, but existing claimants may continue receiving benefits for the duration of their claim within eligible weeks of assistance. Additionally, this package requires a higher threshold for individuals to prove eligibility for the program in an effort to prevent fraudulent claims. Should PUA not be extended, more than 7 million individuals will be left without any income in the new year.

The second program addressed in the plan is Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC). PEUC provides 13 additional weeks of UI for individuals who have exhausted their regular state UI benefits. Under the GOP package, PEUC will be extended in the same manner as PUA – a 1-month extension until January 31, 2021, and then a 2-month phase out in which individuals may not file new claims; however, existing claimants may continue receiving benefits for the duration of their claim within eligible weeks of assistance. More than 4 million individuals are anticipated to be still be filing PEUC claims on the current expiration date, December 26. In sum, 12 million individuals will see these benefits expire unless the programs are extended.

McConnell’s targeted plan includes additional elements such as the continuation of the Paycheck Protection Program Act, liability relief for businesses, schools, hospitals, religious institutions and more, support for venues and theaters, postal service assistance, educational and childcare assistance, and additional appropriations for COVID-19 testing.

As it stands, the proposal has not formally been introduced as a bill and a vote has yet to be set. As work on COVID relief continues, the Chamber will have the most up-to-date information and resources here.

About the authors

Stephanie Ferguson

Stephanie Ferguson

Stephanie Ferguson is the Director of Global Employment Policy & Special Initiatives. Her work on the labor shortage has been cited in the Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, and Associated Press.

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