NEWARK, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — House Democrats passed a $1.9 trillion COVID relief package that would provide more help for those unemployed, but some people have already been waiting for aid for months.
House Democrats say their plan would put shots in arms and money in pockets.READ MORE: Stimulus Check Latest: Will Your Next Relief Payment Be $1,400?
“This is going to be a boon for families in our country,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said.
Those earning less than $75,000 a year would get $1,400 stimulus checks. There would also be a boost to federal unemployment payments — $400 a week with a new unemployment extension.
But even those who qualify aren’t banking on the cash.
“If I didn’t get the first one, how am I gonna get the second one?” North Bergan resident William Sharp said.
Sharp is still waiting for thousands of dollars from the 11-week extension passed in December, pointing to New Jersey’s antiquated unemployment system and a lack of staff with answers for the financially debilitating delay.
“The problem is, is that they don’t know what the problem is, so how are they gonna fix the problem?” Sharp said.
The Labor Department in part has blamed a glitch in its computer system for the first extension backlog, but the problems stretch back for months.READ MORE: New Yorkers At Bronx Food Pantry Describe Need For Federal Stimulus Checks, $15 Minimum Wage; ‘Got To Choose Between Rent, Food’
Newark resident Veronica Branch told CBS2’s Jessica Layton she’s been waiting 15 weeks and is owed $12,330.
Branch has three kids to feed and a bunch of bills to pay. She says her claim is under review and she has no idea why.
“I’m like, can I speak to a claim examiner please? ‘No, you’re not allowed,'” Branch said. “People need their money in order to survive.”
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“I know folks have been frustrated,” Gov. Phil Murphy said.
Murphy says 2 million people have filed since the pandemic began. His new budget calls for pumping money into modernizing the state’s unemployment system.
“We’re gonna put just under $8 million even without waiting for the feds,” he said. “The federal system is broken … It needs to be completely overhauled, and then when that’s done, we need to do the same thing.”
Once the Senate gets the bill, those lawmakers will have to act quickly. Federal unemployment benefits expire again in about two weeks.MORE NEWS: Demanding Answers: Fight For Unemployment Checks A Losing Battle For Many In New Jersey; ‘I’ve Been Living Off Credit Cards’
CBS2’s Jessica Layton contributed to this report.