RI awaiting more guidance on how to administer new unemployment benefits


PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Gov. Gina Raimondo said Wednesday there are many questions that still need to be answered in order for Rhode Island to take on the new unemployment benefits program President Donald Trump signed into law over the weekend.

The executive order on unemployment leaves it up to each state to roll out a new program and distribute the benefits.

Raimondo called the president’s actions “smoke and mirrors,” adding Congress should do its job and pass a new bill to renew unemployment benefits.

“He summarily suggested that he’ll kick in $300 without telling us where the money will come from, how we should administer it, what the perimeters will be,” Raimondo explained.

She said it’s a challenge that won’t be unique to Rhode Island.

“I haven’t found a governor in America that has said they are going to be able to administer this program,” Raimondo added.

Trump signed the executive orders, bypassing Congress, amid a stalemate in the negotiations. He said he did so after Democrats “stonewalled our efforts to extend this relief.”

The $400 weekly payments replace the $600 benefits that expired at the end of July.

On Wednesday, U.S. Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse said negotiations in Washington could resume next week.

“We are going to try and hold on for a little while to see if the will actually come to the table in a serious way,” he said. “If and when they do, I think we will have a very good bill that we could produce very quickly.”

CBS News reports the new payments may not come this month because states need to build a new system to administer the money.

“I’ll be the first governor in America to get those checks out, but the president needs to give us a serious solution,” Raimondo said during her weekly briefing. “He can’t just write on a piece of paper, ‘I’ll give you $300 if you kick in $100. Good luck.'”

The Rhode Island Department of Labor and Training says it’s waiting for additional federal guidance in order to determine how to move forward with this new unemployment benefits program.

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