In their floor proceedings today, the United States Senate introduced a new package that would act as a second COVID-19 relief bill for Americans. 

This is being called the HEALS Act, standing for Health, Economic Assistance, Liability Protection, and Schools.

Unemployment: The Senate is proposing a 70% wage replacement for unemployment on a sliding scale for states to implement. Until this, reports are that the weekly unemployment insurance would decrease from $600 to $200 a week.

Stimulus Checks: The proposal would include another round of $1,200 payment for eligible Americans. 

Other information will be posted once it becomes available.

 

This proposal must be first discussed and voted on by the House of Representatives before it would officially pass.

Locally in Erie, even if a bill may pass, there is no guarantee people on benefits would see the additional unemployment right away. 

"That's the concern, it might take three weeks, it might take a month, it might take three months" said (D) Representative Pat Harkins, referring to his worry of the length of time it may take the Department of Labor and Industry to roll out a potential new plan. 

Labor and Industry Secretary Jerry Oleksiak outlined a few possibilities relating to how long it may take to implement a new unemployment insurance policy. 

"If it's decided to just continue doing the $600 payments, that wouldn't take very much time at all for our system", said Oleksiak. "It's already set up to do that". 

Oleksiak also said it would take a little longer if the dollar amount changed from $600 to another amount: "If it's still a flat rate, but the number changes, that would take a little more time", said Oleksiak. "But, it is still something that could be done in a reasonable period of time". 

The biggest concern Oleksiak and the Labor Department has is if Congress decides to expand unemployment insurance on a percentage scale. 

Earlier reports suggested there would soon be a 70% wage replacement plan for individuals on unemployment benefits. Oleksiak knows this would take significant time to create for people in Pennsylvania and in the Erie area. 

We may have to review all of those [unemployment] claims individually", Oleksiak said. "It could take months to make changes in the system".