The Authors Guild is urging Senate leaders on both sides of the aisle to take swift action to extend and expand COVID-19 unemployment benefits for freelancers and nontraditional workers—including the critical PUA benefits—that are set to expire at the end of the year. In letters sent this week, the Authors Guild called for extension of the PUA benefits until the worst of the pandemic is over and Americans can return to work, as well as underscored its ongoing concerns about gaps in existing law that have prevented workers with a mix of W-2- and 1099-based income (“mixed-income earners”) from receiving full PUA benefits.
While Congress recognizes that another stimulus is needed to boost the economy in the wake of the pandemic, including extending unemployment benefits, the Democratic House and Republican Senate have been at odds over the size of the stimulus and what would be included in the aid package. In October, the House passed an updated version of its Heroes Act, which reduces the size of its original relief package. That bill includes extended PUA benefits until January 31, 2021, and a fix for the mixed-income earner issue. However, Republicans in the Senate continue to push for a much smaller $500 billion “skinny bill.” Negotiations are currently underway during Congress’s lame-duck session.
Attached are copies of the letters sent to Republican and Democratic Senate leaders. We will continue to keep you updated if and when the new bill passes.