LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — Unemployment benefits are in jeopardy tonight since the federal government has yet to come to an agreement on a COVID-19 relief bill. The delay in funding could impact hundreds of thousands of Nevadans.
Department of Employment, Training and Rehabilitation (DETR) officials say they were fully prepared to implement the coronavirus relief bill, but now, their hands are tied.
Without a signed bill, DETR says they cannot extend unemployment benefits for Nevadans that desperately need them.
“It will affect hundreds of thousands of Nevadans moving forward,” said Elisa Cafferata, director of DETR.
If the bill is not signed, unemployment benefits will expire this Saturday for nearly 200,000 people. This applies to pandemic unemployment assistance (PUA), pandemic emergency unemployment compensation (PEUC) and state extended benefits (SEB). Due to the delay from the federal government, there could now be a delay in payments once a bill is passed.
“At this point, it is a virtual certainty that there will have to be a gap in benefits when this bill is signed,” Cafferata said.
The department says families are about to face unbelievable hardship if action is not taken.
“I urge Congress and the President to think about the families about to lose their homes or the ability to support their children and resolve this crisis,” said Barbara Buckley, DETR Strike Force leader.
If the bill is signed, the Department of Labor says it could still take about two weeks to provide guidance to the state. DETR will then have to review it and make sure they are properly implementing the program.
In the meantime, DETR is asking Nevadans in the regular unemployment insurance (UI) program to continue to file weekly benefits. They want to reassure PUA claimants that they will be able to catch up on weeks that they were not able to file due to the delay.
Gov. Steve Sisolak expressed his displeasure at the latest turn of events, Tweeting: