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Republicans play hardball as housing crisis looms and unemployment set to expire

Wyatt Reed
Press TV, Washington

For the millions of Americans facing the threat of eviction and the end of emergency unemployment benefits, it seems for now that little help is on the way—at least from Congress.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said that a proposed new COVID-19 relief measure backed by centrist Republicans and Democrats should serve as an opening bid in negotiations with Republicans. It’s a far cry from the $2.2 trillion bill House Democrats approved last month, and economist Dr. Jack Rasmus says Republicans are unlikely to allow this latest measure to pass either.

With Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin promising to block his replacement, Janet Yellen, from disbursing $455 billion in unspent Cares Act funds, the $500 billion package Republicans are offering would likely consist almost entirely of money Congress already allocated to COVID-19 relief.

In the meantime, tens of millions of Americans face the looming threat of eviction as a CDC moratorium expires this month, and over 12 million are set to lose their unemployment benefits the day after Christmas. Hunger is rampant, and the number of people suffering from food insecurity could reach 50 million by the end of the year.

With so many facing increasingly dire circumstances, authorities in some states are working to bridge the gap in benefits on their own. Legislators in Michigan, Colorado, and Minnesota are currently eyeing measures to make sure that happens if Congress doesn’t step, but according to Dr. Rasmus, that may be easier said than done.

The desperation doesn’t end there. The slow-motion tsunami of unemployment and homelessness is already starting to occur in cities all over the country. But for now, there’s little many Americans can do but pray that help arrives on time. 

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