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It estimated that in April, federal pandemic unemployment compensation, which provides $600 per week in additional federal funds to tens of millions of newly unemployed Americans, "offset roughly 30 percent of the loss in private-sector wages and salaries" during the COVID-19 crisis.

The program was part of the coronavirus relief bill passed in March, which approved $2.

3 trillion in funds to stabilize the economy. Democrats in Congress are pushing to extend the program past its current expiration date in July.

Last month, the Democratic-controlled House passed a bill that would extend Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation through the end of January 2021.

Many Republicans, however, have said they want to let the program end. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said last month that the bille was "dead on arrival" and vowed that to fight an extension of the benefits. On Thursday, dozens of House Republicans signed a letter demanding the program be allowed to expire. They argued that the benefits are too generous and would harlm "employers' ability to incentivize employees to return to the workplace."

The joint committee report, however, suggested that this concern was "misplaced," and that economic research shows little indication that this is a major problem.

Rep. Don Beyer (D-VA), who serves as vice chair of the joint ommittee, said Friday that newly released unemployment numbers for May show that the program is vital.

Noting that "more than 20 million Americans remain unemployed," he said in a press release that it is "critical that we continue Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation and the Paycheck Protection Program, and get state and local governments the support they need. Workers and businesses need to know that we are all in this together and that we will provide them with support for as long as the economy remains weak."

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.

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New York Gov. Cuomo asks to buy Covid vaccine directly from Pfizer amid dose shortages

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo delivers remarks on the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) at the Riverside Church in Manhattan, New York City, U.S., November 15, 2020.Andrew Kelly | Reuters

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo asked Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla Monday for the ability to buy Covid-19 vaccine doses directly from the company.

The request comes after an alarmingly slow start to the national vaccine rollout, with the country millions of injections short of the Trump administration's initial projections. As of Jan. 15, the U.S. had distributed more than 31 million doses and administered just over 12 million. Health officials had hoped to inject 20 million Americans by the end of 2020.

Cuomo, a Democrat, blamed the Trump administration for failing to send enough vaccine doses to his state. This week, he said, New York would receive 250,000 doses — 50,000 fewer than the week before.

In his letter to Bourla, Cuomo suggested Pfizer should be able to sell directly to his state, bypassing federal agencies, since Pfizer is "not bound by commitments that Moderna made as part of Operation Warp Speed."

"The company's decision to opt out of Operation Warp Speed, which the Biden administration plans to overhaul, puts it in a unique situation that could help us save lives right here in New York," Cuomo wrote.

Representatives for Pfizer and for the Department of Health and Human Services did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

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