Protesters rally outside U.S. congressman’s home as $600 unemployment benefits near end

Published: Jul. 23, 2020 at 5:56 PM EDT
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ST. JOSEPH, Mich. (WNDU) - The most recent coronavirus relief legislation, the Heroes act is awaiting a vote in the Senate. At stake, $600 supplemental unemployment benefits in danger of expiring at the end of this month if the Heroes act is not passed.

U.S. Congressman Fred Upton voted no on the Heroes act, when it passed through the House in May.

Thursday, a group of protesters outside Upton’s home are hoping to change the congressman’s mind and convince him to support the passage of the bill.

Upton wasn't in his home here in St. Joseph Michigan. He's in Washington D.C. But that didn't stop activists from lining up on his sidewalk to voice their message and try to get the Heroes act passed.

Some families like that of student and activist Angel Banuelos rely on the supplemental unemployment dollars in the wake of COVID-19. Now Banuelos says he’s not sure if that aid will continue.

"The things that make me anxious is that we still need rent to be paid. I have two little sisters that are little--they don't work at all. And so the biggest thing is keeping the bills paid and keeping our families healthy," Banuelos said.

Upton voted to not pass the Heroes act through the House, but the activists say they still hope he can use his voice in Washington to help it get passed in the Senate.

“What I’m wanting him to do is be supportive of the Heroes act and then also do everything in his power to help Michigan residents to receive assistance,” Banuelos said.

16 News Now reached out to the congressman for reaction to the activists.

He said,”...our office has been working 24/7 to try and help folks across southwest Michigan get their unemployment checks still held up in the state’s backlog.

It’s clear many are still struggling to make ends meet. Just today 1.4 million Americans filed for unemployment, and Michigan’s unemployment rate remains north of 14 percent. Congress now needs to reach bipartisan consensus again on further help for workers and their families.”

16 News Now also reached out to U.S Senator from Indiana Todd Young (R) on where he stands with continuing supplemental unemployment benefits through the Heroes act.

”I’ve been hearing from northern Indiana manufacturers in particular about how this is having adverse effects on their operations. We need to create a system in my view that allows those workers to bring a portion of that unemployment assistance back into the workplace and then over a period of time we’ll see a phase-down in that plus-up,” Young said.

The Heroes act rests in the fate of the Senate. Even if it’s passed there, it will require a signature from President Donald Trump to become law.

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