MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — At the end of last month, countless Americans stopped receiving federal unemployment benefit payments of $600 per week.
With negotiations to reinstate federal help stalled, President Donald Trump signed an executive order Saturday giving unemployed Americans an extra $400 per week.READ MORE: Garbage Truck Dumps Burning Trash In Richfield Neighborhood
“Am I going to wake up to my power being off the next day? Am I going to wake up to no hot water because they shut my gas off?” said Charnell Flow, who used to work two jobs.
She was a manager at McDonalds and worked the kitchen at a Casey’s.
“My dad had me stacking hay when I was seven years old ya know,” Flow said. “I’ve worked for pretty much 31 years.”
But when a respiratory condition forced her to leave her McDonald’s job and go on medical leave from the others, she found herself in a tough spot — unable to pay her bills as she waited for her unemployment application to process.
“I had no money coming in, my parents were helping me out as much as I could they would send me the $50 to get some groceries,” Flow said. “A lot of anxiety, a lot of sleepless nights.”
The $600 weekly federal unemployment benefits on top of Flow’s state benefits turned things around.READ MORE: Next Weather: Severe Thunderstorm Watch Issued For Northeastern Minnesota
“It’s just a relief knowing you can pay your bills,” Flow said.
After the additional federal assistance ran out last month, President Donald Trump announced an executive order Saturday calling for a $400 dollar per week federal top-off for unemployment benefits.
While it’s unclear when those payments would kick in, the news is a relief to Flow — someone who initially agreed with the thought that federal top-off payments were too generous.
“I got sick and I was like ‘oh my god I need that money because I won’t make it without it,’” Flow said. “Until you’re in that predicament, you don’t know how it feels to be us.”
The Minnesota DFL released a statement Saturday criticizing the decision to cut the unemployment benefit from $600 to $400.
The party says the administration’s “incompetent response to COVID-19 has created an economic crisis and this will only make it worse.”
President Trump also signed executive orders providing eviction protections, a temporary payroll tax cut, and student loan deferments.MORE NEWS: Kayakers On Minnesota River Found Human Skull That Turned Out To Be Nearly 8,000 Years Old
There could be legal challenges in the days ahead, as tax and spending measures typically require Congressional action.