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‘More information’ needed before Arkansas reacts to Trump’s executive orders on jobless benefits

Congressional leaders have yet to compromise on legislation to extend and adjust the benefits.
Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — Gov. Asa Hutchinson isn’t yet sure how President Donald Trump’s executive order on unemployment benefits will work in Arkansas and wants more information from the feds before possibly spending an estimated $265 million on extended jobless benefits.

Unemployment insurance benefits that provided an extra $600 a week and paid benefits to the self-employed, fully paid for by the federal government, expired at the end of July. Congressional leaders have yet to compromise on legislation to extend and adjust the benefits. President Trump on Aug. 8 issued an executive order that would support extension of jobless benefits by using disaster relief funds (DRF) from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and COVID relief funds previously provided by Congress to the states.

“I am hereby directing the Federal Emergency Management Agency [FEMA] to assist in providing benefits from the DRF, and am calling upon the States to use their CRF allocation, to bring continued financial relief to Americans who are suffering from unemployment due to the COVID-19 outbreak,” President Trump noted in his order. “To provide financial assistance for the needs of those who have lost employment as a result of the pandemic, I am directing up to $44 billion from the DRF at the statutorily mandated 75 percent Federal cost share be made available for lost wages assistance to eligible claimants, to supplement State expenditures in providing these payments.”

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