Nevada’s head of DETR and the head of the pandemic Strike Force said Thursday the failure of Congress and the president to get a stimulus package through until this week guarantees there will be a gap in stimulus benefits for hundreds of thousands of Nevada families.
“Congress and the president had months to act,” said Strike Force Director Barbara Buckley, the former Nevada Assembly speaker.
Instead, Congress failed to get a bill through until this week. Then President Trump threatened to veto it before leaving for his Florida resort for the holidays.
Because of their failure, Buckley said the state will be forced to cut off benefits the day after Christmas.
Gov. Steve Sisolak also weighed in on the situation.
"I was already frustrated with the late timing of this stimulus bill, but that frustration has only grown now that the President has created immense uncertainty on the future of this federal funding. His inaction and gamesmanship have put Nevada — and states across the nation — in an impossible situation. Unfortunately, and despite DETR's hard work, Nevadans will suffer because of the failures in Washington, D.C. to act in a timely manner," said Sisolak.
The bill would extend for another 11 weeks regular unemployment benefits, the Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation benefits, State Extended Benefits and the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance programs.
It also contains the $300 a week regular unemployment enhancement and funding for other programs including emergency food assistance, protection from eviction for renters and small business funding.
Elisa Cafferata, director of the Department of Employment, Training and Rehabilitation, that means 199,322 Nevadans stand to lose the benefits they are getting, two thirds of the 285,020 Nevadans who are currently receiving some form of benefits.
Cafferata said even if the stimulus bill is signed quickly, her department must wait until the federal Labor Department issues guidance on how to implement the different provisions of the bill. She said federal officials have advised that guidance will take about 10 days to arrive at the states.
“A gap in benefits becomes virtually unavoidable even if it gets signed immediately,” she said.
In the meantime, Cafferata said people could continue to file their claims because, once everything gets sorted out, DETR will not only start paying claimants again but will pay them retroactively.
But, right now, she said, they have to wait for guidance from the Labor Department on how to implement those extensions.
Buckley said people in desperate need should look to community resources including food banks, call 2-1-1 to see what help is available, “while we hope the president and Congress get us the help we need.”