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Republican senator contends with mobile phone while unveiling recovery plan

Washington, DCSenator Chuck Grassley's news conference to unveil the Republicans' coronavirus aid package was disrupted-by his mobile phone. As he announced plans to slash the supplemental unemployment benefits of $600 to $200 at a news conference on Monday, July 27, Grassley was drowned out by the persistent ring of a mobile phone.

Turning to find out where the ringing was coming from, Grassley chuckled as an aide suggested the disruption was coming from his pocket. "You've got to be kidding...I'm embarrassed, I'm sorry," Grassley said after turning off the offending phone. Senate Republicans on Monday proposed a $1 trillion coronavirus aid package hammered out with the White House, paving the way for talks with Democrats on how to help Americans as expanded unemployment benefits for millions of workers expire this week.

Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell called the proposal a "starting point" focused on getting children back to school and employees back to work and protecting corporations from lawsuits, while slashing the expiring supplemental unemployment benefits of $600 a week by two-thirds. The plan sparked immediate opposition from both Democrats and Republicans. Democrats decried it as too limited compared to their $3 trillion proposal that passed the House of Representatives in May, and some Republicans called it too expensive.
Republicans want to reduce the expanded unemployment benefit from the current $600 per week, which expires on Friday, to $200, paid in addition to state unemployment benefits, and to extend the program for two months. After that, the benefit would switch to 70% of a worker's previous wages, to a maximum of $500 a week including state unemployment benefits.The supplemental benefit has been a financial lifeline for laid-off workers and a key support for consumer spending. The extra unemployment funds - exceeding the former wages of some workers - have been a sticking point for many Republicans, who say they encourage Americans to stay home rather than go back to work.
Democrats, in turn, have decried the Republican delay in writing more legislation as U.S. coronavirus cases passed the 4 million mark, a milestone for a pandemic that has killed roughly 150,000 people in the United States and thrown tens of millions out of work.

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