It’s been over a week since Senator Tillis packed up and left Washington without passing critical relief for North Carolinians, increasing anxieties and frustration for those who remain out of work due to the pandemic, state and local governments that are wondering how they will deal with budget shortfalls while still keeping their community safe, schools who are navigating the challenges of teaching their students safely either in person or virtually, and hundreds of thousands of North Carolinians who still remain uninsured during a global pandemic.
The Capitol Broadcasting Company Editorial Board writes that the U.S. Senate “has failed to act” and now, under President Trump’s “inadequate stop-gap plan,” it’s unclear who will even qualify and for how long. North Carolinians need a better solution, especially because as Speaker of the State House, Thom Tillis worked to gut unemployment benefits and their duration. Without federal help, what the hundreds of thousands of unemployed North Carolinians are left with is the one of the “skimpiest” and “stingiest” programs in the nation.
In an interview with WNCT in Greenville, Cal Cunningham expressed his disappointment in the inaction from Washington and outlined his priorities for the next COVID-19 package, drawn from conversations with North Carolinians.
At a time of deep uncertainty about how they will feed their family, keep the lights on, and pay the bills, North Carolina families need answers from their leaders in Washington. Noted in the editorial, the enhanced federal unemployment benefit not only served as a lifeline for families out of work, but also “saved the nation from economic collapse.” Senator Tillis’ inability to recognize this and to work to get the job done is a dereliction of duty.
Cal has made his priorities clear since May, while Senator Tillis released a “plan” “way too late” and what his hometown paper described as “an act of self-preservation.” Now, as the Senate recesses until after Labor Day, he has proven that he is not up to the task. North Carolinians will hold him accountable for his failure to lead this November.
WRAL: Editorial: Just doing enough won’t cut it when needs are great
By CBC Editorial Board – August 21, 2020
- Congress – most particularly the U.S. Senate – has failed to act to provide much needed help to North Carolina and the nation’s millions of COVID-19 pandemic-forced unemployed. What the unemployed in the states are left with is a 50% cut in the federal benefits as set out in the executive order President Donald Trump offered.
- What remains uncertain is when the state might receive the funds, just who among the state’s 863,000 approved unemployed claimants will be eligible for the benefits and how long they will last. Even White House officials have not been able to provide specific details. Trump’s plan adds a significant bureaucratic burden on state unemployment agencies to deal with new qualification rules and it is possible the additional funding may run out in as few as three weeks.
- North Carolina’s unemployed are particularly dependent upon the federal help because Berger, Tillis, Moore and the North Carolina Chamber of Commerce down-sized the state’s unemployment system into one of the skimpiest in the nation. Average benefits – and the duration those are paid – are among the lowest in the nation.
- All of which leaves way too many questions at a time when North Carolinians need answers to feed their families, keep them safe and sheltered as well as pay for health care that may be needed – a real concern in a pandemic.
- It was May when the House of Representatives passed its version of a bill to extend and expand aid to help workers and businesses along with state and local government. Since that time there has never been a bill offered up on the floor of the Senate for debate and votes. Sen. Richard Burr; Sen. Thom Tillis – where do you stand. News releases won’t cut it.
- This is basic. In Congress, one house passes a bill then the other chamber takes up the issue and passes its version. The two chambers then hash out the differences and present it to the president to accept or reject.
- But here, the Senate’s checked out. U.S. Senate Leader Mitch McConnell forbids any debate and vote. He’s absolved the Senate of any responsibility and handed everything over to the White House.
- What really is needed is for Burr, Tillis and their fellow senators to pass a reasonable assistance program that would continue the $600-per-week additional emergency federal unemployment assistance.