AUSTIN (Nexstar) — Gov. Greg Abbott believes federal officials will strike a deal to provide unemployment benefits “adequately” for Texans who have lost a job due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Abbott made the remarks during a press conference in Beaumont, about 85 miles east of Houston. He visited East Texas to meet with local officials about the response to the novel coronavirus.
“Yesterday I had the opportunity to speak with both the Vice President as well as Treasury Secretary (Steven) Mnuchin about unemployment benefits and what the plan is,” Abbott said.
“The reality is this, and that is the administration continues to negotiate with the Democrats both in the U.S. House as well as the U.S. Senate on what the plan will look like,” Abbott said.
“I have every reason to believe that when all the final deal is worked out, there will be a more robust deal that is struck between administration and between Congress to make sure that unemployment benefits will be provided adequately for those who have lost a job because of no fault of their own,” Abbott concluded.
A spokesperson for the Texas Workforce Commission said Monday the commission was reviewing President Donald Trump’s executive order issued over the weekend, which moves to charge states to pay 25% of the $400 payment through a federal unemployment program. A $600 payment expired when Congress failed to negotiate a deal by the end of July.
In another press conference Tuesday afternoon, this one in Victoria, Abbott said Vice President Mike Pence and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told him Monday states would have an option to use CARES Act funding to pay for the state’s portion of the unemployment benefit.
“They said at that time that we, being the states, could use CARES Act funding for that match,” Abbott said.
“I feel that the negotiations will be very fruitful, and I think that we will see in the coming days, a better package come out of Congress, that will provide those benefits as well as provide other funds that will assist, could be state and local governments as well as people who are unemployed, to make sure that everybody is going to be able to get back on their feet a whole lot quicker,” Abbott said in Victoria.