U.S. Congress needs compromise to extend COVID-19 unemployment payments, Pelosi says

FILE PHOTO: U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) speaks to reporters following a classified intelligence briefing by CIA Director Gina Haspel and Director of National Intelligence (DNI) John Ratcliffe on reports that Russia paid the Taliban bounties to kill U.S. military in Afghanistan, during her weekly news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S. July 2, 2020. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said on Sunday she believes U.S. lawmakers can find a compromise on extending jobless benefits and unemployment insurance for Americans struggling amid coronavirus pandemic shutdowns.

“We have to find a compromise because we must extend it,” Pelosi said on CNN’s “State of the Union.”

The top Republican in the U.S. House of Representatives has said it would not be productive to extend the extra unemployment benefits that were included in coronavirus relief legislation earlier this year. The benefits expire on July 31.

Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy and other Republicans point to statistics showing many Americans receive more money from the extended unemployment benefits than they earned when they were at work.

Republicans and Democrats have been debating how to help the country recover from the economic effects of the novel coronavirus, which led to business closures that have thrown tens of millions of Americans out of work.

The loss of the safety net of $600 per week payments to laid off workers looms well before a sustained recovery is likely to take hold from the sudden and deep recession brought by the coronavirus, which has infected nearly 3 million Americans.

Democrats in the U.S. Senate, impatient with the pace of Republican deliberations on additional coronavirus aid, have proposed long-term extensions to a temporary unemployment insurance program.

The $600-per-week payments, which began at the end of March, would be extended until jobless rates in individual states fell below 11%.

The proposal comes as 33 million people in the United States are either receiving unemployment benefits or awaiting approval, Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer said.

Reporting by Doina Chiacu; Editing by Scott Malone and Aurora Ellis