President Trump has lawmakers all over the country scrambling to figure out how they’ll implement and absorb his weekend executive orders aimed at providing Americans more relief in the face of the coronavirus pandemic.
What’s especially pertinent to many affected people is Trump announcing a $400-per-week unemployment top-up, short of the $600 weekly benefit that just expired.
Unlike the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC) that just ended, this weekly bump would require states and territories to shell out 25% of the funding themselves.
Congressman Michael San Nicolas confirmed that Guam is eligible. However, he said Gov. Lou Leon Guerrero needs to move quickly if Guam wants in on the cash.
The Trump unemployment top-up program, as announced, will run through December 6th of this year or until the $44 billion dollars allocated to it is depleted or unless Congress agrees on a different plan altogether. So far, the House and Senate are in a stalemate over the issue.
David Dell’Isola, Guam Department of Labor Director, said: “In the meantime, we’re going to move forward as if this is the plan in front of us. There are a lot of unanswered questions as far as what our match would be … I mean, what our match would be if they carve us a small piece of it and say out of the $44 billion, this is Guam’s piece, then we might only have to fund a small piece, versus the whole program. So for budgeting, we have to plan for the whole program, even though I feel like we’re only going to get a small piece.”
He added that this is a completely different program.
“It’s going to take quite a long time to put together a program. This is not something that is an unemployment assistance, this is a disaster assistance, that’s dressed like and looks like unemployment. So, it is an entirely different program where guidance and implementation has to be developed and that’s going to take time, and then you have to come up with a budget, and then an agreement and then come up with funding on our side…it’s not going to happen overnight,” the GDOL director said.
Dell’Isola says he’s talking with the governor’s office now to figure out how much Guam would need.
Based on roughly 30,000 unemployed residents, that figure could be as high as $60 million if Guam is funding it the whole time. But if the island gets a smaller piece of the federal pie, then it could be closer to $20 million to $40million.
Over the weekend, the governor issued her cautious, initial reaction to Trump’s executive orders, saying firstly there could be significant legal challenges to them and that she’s awaiting further guidance on their rollout.
Whether it’s Trump’s program, or one that Congress passes, Dell’Isola says residents should expect delays since there will still be a long runway to getting any new program implemented.
For now, thousands of affected island residents will be getting their portion of the $345 PUA payout Dell’Isola confirmed today that DOL received another allotment of $185 million from the Feds to continue the PUA payouts.