The state of Colorado is preparing to issue three weeks of unemployment checks due to President Donald Trump's executive order to pay $300 a week to those who qualify. The payments will come amidst Congress' failed efforts to reach an agreement regarding the continuation of the $600 per week benefit to compensate those out of work due to shutdowns because of COVID-19.
The Colorado Department of Labor and Employment said in a release issued Aug. 19 that the federal Lost Wages Assistance program has been approved and system reprogramming has begun.
However, the payments, designed to add $300 on top of regular unemployment benefits, will cover only three weeks through Aug. 15, and the payments won't be made until mid- to late September.
"Colorado's application for Lost Wages Assistance has been approved initially for this three-week period," the release said. "The Department will communicate to claimants should Colorado be approved for additional weeks of LWA benefits."
Claimants don't have to take any action. The extra benefits will be added automatically for all who are eligible to receive at least $100 in weekly unemployment benefit payments, including those who receive any type of regular unemployment insurance benefits or Pandemic Unemployment Assistance benefits.
Colorado has paid over $2.4 billion in benefits to approximately 560,000 claimants between April and July.
But Sen. Michael Bennet, D-Colorado, isn't jumping for joy.
He called Trump's "half-measure [is] ... woefully insufficient to address the needs of workers who are unemployed through no fault of their own.
"This is three weeks of payments for weeks that have already passed at half the level of the previous benefit that will not be available until a month from now," he said in a statement in response to questions from the Indy
Also from Bennet:
The only way to adequately fight the pandemic and provide real support to the people across our state is through bipartisan legislation. We should pass my proposal with Senator Jack Reed from Rhode Island to extend an expanded unemployment benefit, tie it to the health of the economy, and gradually phase the benefit down as the economy recovers, so it remains in place for as long as it’s needed, but not beyond that.
Republicans in Congress should never have sent families over the unemployment benefit cliff at the end of July. And instead of walking away from a bipartisan negotiation and throwing up his hands, the president needs to demonstrate leadership and send his team back to the negotiating table so we can get this done for the American people.
The state Labor Department says that since March 29, more than $4.6 billion in state and federal unemployment benefits has been paid to more than 560,000 Coloradans. "Colorado has consistently paid benefits on more than 80% of initial claims filed and Colorado ranks in the top five states who have timely benefit payment (within 21 days), according to data from the U.S. Department of Labor," the state Labor Department's release said.
Trump's executive action is being challenged
, because Congress, not the president, control spending.