Tennessee agrees to Trump’s $300-a-week unemployment plan

NASHVILLE (AP) — Tennessee will become the latest state to ask the federal government for an extra $300 a week in unemployment benefits under President Donald Trump’s supplemental plan, Gov. Bill Lee’s labor and workforce development commissioner announced Tuesday.

Commissioner Jeff McCord told reporters that the state will file its request this week, making the Volunteer State one of at least 20 states that have opted to take the federal grants allowing them to increase unemployment checks under the president’s stripped-down benefit plan.

Under the program, additional weekly benefits of at least $100 and up to $300 will be made available to unemployed residents who are already receiving at least $100 a week in unemployment. Those eligible are expected to see several weeks of payments at once because the assistance will be retroactive to Aug. 1.

“Individuals in the state of Tennessee will be able to see a $300 benefit to their weekly unemployment benefits in addition to the state benefit,” McCord said.

Tennessee’s maximum unemployment benefit is $275 per week, meaning Tennesseans could receive up to $575 a week.

However, McCord warned that because the federal grant has finite funds, the extra $300 benefit could run out before the projected Dec. 26 deadline, depending on state participation.

Trump’s executive order takes $44 billion from a Federal Emergency Management Agency disaster relief fund and offers states additional unemployment payments using that money. Critics have questioned the validity of the order.

More than 10,000 individuals filed new unemployment claims for the week ending Aug. 8, while more than 208,800 individuals continue to file their claims, according to the labor agency.

For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms. For some, especially older adults and those with existing health problems, it can cause more severe or fatal illness.

The new plan comes as the previous $600-a-week unemployment supplement expired last month and has not been extended by Congress.