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Laid-off valley workers await unemployment benefits decision

Tens of millions of Americans are out of work, some anxiously awaiting a decision on whether expanded unemployment payments will continue.

Negotiations continued Tuesday night on Capitol Hill between Democrats and White House officials, as they tried to hammer out a phase four coronavirus bill.

Democrats want to extend the payments as is, $600 per week – while Republicans want to cut the checks by two-thirds, to $200 per week.

"It's a roller coaster of emotions. It's always up and down," said Selena Morales. She's been out of work since the beginning of the pandemic.

Morales filed for unemployment early on, but didn't see benefits until last month. "Trying to get through unemployment is a nightmare. Every day I tried," she said.

Morales' husband has kept his job, working overtime these days at a food supply warehouse in Riverside. But together, they have five kids to support. So when the checks finally landed, she said it was a big relief.

"It helped us out a lot," Morales said. "We were able to catch up on bills, our rent.

Now those benefits are running out, leaving people like Morales short-changed.

"The goal is to eliminate the prospect that one could make more not working than working," said Sen. Mitch McConnell.

If Morales' benefits were to be cut, she said anything would be helpful right now. "I don't want to sound greedy – something is better than nothing," she said.

But in response to comments like this one from Senate Republican Chuck Grassley: "We've learned a very tough lesson – that when you pay people not to work, what do you expect?" Morales said that's just not the case.

"I don't agree. I'm one to work. I miss working. I wish I was working right now," she said. "I just wish they could be in my shoes.

There is talk among California lawmakers about the state picking up that $600 per week if Congress doesn't extend it. The federal relief has already expired.

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Jake Ingrassia

Joining News Channel 3 and CBS Local 2 as a reporter, Jake is excited to be launching his broadcasting career here in the desert. Learn more about Jake here.


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