Maine will apply for a federal emergency program to provide an additional $300 per week in unemployment insurance to workers receiving benefits, the state’s labor department announced Friday.
President Donald Trump authorized the federal government to pay for supplemental unemployment benefits through a program from the Federal Emergency Management Agency in early August, but Maine officials were waiting for guidance on how to implement the order. Some lawmakers questioned whether the program was constitutional, since usually only Congress has the power to allocate money.
Congress authorized an additional $600 per week in unemployment benefits as part of a coronavirus relief bill in March, but that program expired at the end of July. Trump’s authorization is slightly narrower than what Congress had done, with only individuals already making at least $100 per week in unemployment benefits eligible for additional funds.
Trump authorized $44 billion for the program, which is expected to only cover about five weeks of payments.
The Maine Department of Labor said Friday that it anticipates taking about three weeks to set up the program. Once Maine receives funding, benefits would be paid retroactively starting with the week when previous federal benefits expired. Individuals do not need to apply separately for the benefits.