U.S. House Speaker Pelosi opposes temporary extension to enhanced jobless benefits

U.S. House Speaker Pelosi speaks at a bill enrolment ceremony for the Great American Outdoors Act

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said on Friday she was not considering a temporary extension to enhanced unemployment benefits, which expire on July 31, while Congress continues work on a new coronavirus relief bill.

“I would be very much averse to separating this (unemployment benefits) out and lose all leverage (on Republicans) for … meeting all of the other needs,” as lawmakers negotiate another coronavirus aid bill, Pelosi, a Democrat, told reporters.

Enhanced unemployment benefits that Congress authorized early in the coronavirus pandemic expire in one week’s time, and lawmakers have been unable to agree on a measure to extend them. The benefits provide an extra $600 a week on top of what states are already paying tens of millions of jobless workers.

The House in May passed a proposed $3 trillion coronavirus response plan, which among other things would extend the extra unemployment benefits through January. The Republican-run Senate has declined to take up the House plan, and has not produced an alternative.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has said Republicans will unveil their coronavirus proposal next week, but that it would include only a partial extension of the enhanced unemployment benefits.

(Reporting by Susan Cornwell; Editing by Chris Reese and Richard Chang)