(The Center Square) – When Tennessee will be able to begin distributing new extended federal unemployment benefits is unknown after President Donald Trump signed a funding bill that will provide $900 billion in federal COVID-19 stimulus.

The bill, which Trump threatened not to sign before doing so Sunday night, included 11 weeks of additional $300 weekly benefits for unemployed workers.

Millions of Americans lost unemployment benefits Saturday as the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Stimulus Act, passed by Congress earlier this year, expired.

The Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development (TDLWD) must wait for the U.S. Department of Labor to release guidance on the new federal unemployment benefit program before it can be implemented and distributed to Tennesseans. State officials don’t know when that guidance will be released.https://e053c8c674c190048e17da17a7421252.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-37/html/container.html

“There is no firm timeline as to when states will receive this guidance from the federal government,” a statement from the department released Monday read. “The state cannot pay benefits until it receives rules for these modified programs.”

Once the state receives guidance, the department said it would work “as quickly as possible” to provide the benefits to eligible claimants.

The new COVID-19 stimulus package will provide an additional 11 weeks of Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, which will be available until the week ending March 13. It also will provide up to 11 weeks of additional Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation, and up to 11 additional weeks of Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation.

Tennessee’s unemployment system has been strained with unprecedented demand throughout the year, processing nearly a million new unemployment claims since March 15, according to TDLWD data. The department has distributed nearly $23 million in federal and state unemployment benefits, in response to nearly 81,700 claims.

The $900 billion COVID-19 stimulus bill passed Congress last week with little support from republicans in Tennessee’s congressional delegation. The stimulus was attached to a $1.4 trillion omnibus spending bill, to which several fiscally conservative Republicans objected.

This article was initially published at TheCenterSquare

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