New Hampshire paid out $81 million in federal aid to 57,000 people Thursday, executing a Trump administration program that temporarily boosted state unemployment benefits by $300 per week, Gov. Chris Sununu announced.
But the program — which President Donald Trump established via executive order in August, drawing on existing funds in the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Disaster Relief Fund — has already run out of money, Sununu said.
Known as the Lost Wages Assistance Program, the aid was retroactive to Aug. 1 and supplemented regular state unemployment benefits that people already received.
New Hampshire got the program up and running this week, but the money ran out as of Sept. 5, Sununu said. So the first payments, making up for the five previous weeks, will also be the last unless Congress authorizes more money.
During a news conference Thursday, Sununu encouraged Congress to do so, saying the executive order was supposed to provide only a “bridge” to something more permanent.
“Those funds, we knew, would run out after about four or five weeks, and sure enough they have,” he said. “So it’s really imperative that Congress move forward and actually vote on a plan that allows this $300 program to continue. Otherwise it’s simply out of money.”
Trump’s executive order was issued after the $600 weekly payments authorized by the CARES Act expired at the end of July. Democrats and Republicans in Congress have been unable to agree on another round of relief since.
A scaled-back “skinny” stimulus bill put forward by Republicans, which included continued $300 weekly payments, failed in the U.S. Senate Thursday after Democrats and one Republican voted against it, denying it the 60-vote threshold needed to advance most legislation, according to The New York Times. Democrats argued the bill did not go far enough and have pressed for more aid, including relief for hard-hit state and local governments.
New Hampshire had about 42,000 continuing unemployment claims as of the last week of August. Sununu said that was down from more than 100,000 at the height of the pandemic in the spring.