Thirty States May Reject Trump's Weekly $400 Unemployment Boost, 18 Will Accept

At least 30 states are unsure about accepting President Donald Trump's grant offer that would increase federal unemployment benefits by $300 to $400. So far, two states are rejecting the "convoluted" plan that pays out less than the $600 provided under the CARES Act passed by Congress in March.

Dozens of states say they can't afford the financial cost or the bureaucratic hurdles resulting from Trump's August 8 executive order, which seeks to restart the additional federal unemployment benefits for more than 28 million jobless Americans. As an Associated Press report released Tuesday shows, 18 states have said they will accept the federal grant option—primarily out of desperation—that requires their cash-strapped state governments to pay a quarter of the cost themselves.

Thirty states say they are still mulling whether to accept the president's complicated offer or have not said yet if they will accept it. In many states, unemployment benefits without additional federal funding offer only a few hundred dollars a week. A majority of Americans say they need and support the continuation of the $600 weekly benefits, which are opposed by congressional Republicans and the president.

Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear, who received a letter from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell last week urging him to accept the federal funds, told reporters last week he'd spoken to at least three governors who didn't even know about Trump's plan.

Several governors have expressed hope Congress can negate Trump's plan by agreeing to another coronavirus relief measure like the CARES Act, which allocated the $600 in added unemployment benefits until they expired July 31.

According to Department of Labor statistics, 963,000 people applied for unemployment benefits for the first time last week. That number hasn't fallen below 1 million since March. But that number only adds to the 28 million Americans who are receiving unemployment checks that haven't been boosted by enhanced federal funds for the past three weeks.

Under Trump's executive orders signed last week, states would have to chip in about a quarter of the cost, about $100, to give residents the maximum benefit. And this would still be at least $200 less each week than the CARES Act's $600. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has repeatedly pointed this out to Republican lawmakers who oppose extending the $600 in benefits, saying it's too expensive.

Texas Governor Greg Abbott, who has neither rejected nor accepted Trump's plan, joined many state leaders in expressing hope Congress can still work out another economic relief package that would render Trump's plan obsolete. "I have every reason to believe...there will be a more robust deal that is struck," he told the AP.

A spokeswoman for Republican Wyoming Governor Mark Gordon said the state is not sold on Trump's plan because of the complex steps it would require to adopt, according to the AP's report. North Carolina is one of several states where the Democratic governor is pushing for Trump's $400 plan, while Republican lawmakers in the state have agreed only to the $300 plan.

Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf, a Democrat, called Trump's offer a "convoluted, temporary, half-baked concept," the AP said.

California Governor Gavin Newsom is among the Democratic governors who have criticized Trump's plan but decided to accept it because their state coffers are nearly empty. "As I say, don't look a gift horse in the mouth," he told reporters last week.

Newsweek reached out to the White House and the governor's offices in Kentucky and California for additional remarks Tuesday morning but did not hear back in time for publication.

gavin newsom california governor trump
Eighteen states have said they would accept the federal grant option - primarily out of desperation - which requires their own cash-strapped state governments to pay a quarter of the cost themselves. Getty Images/Saul Loeb/contributor