Loading...

New Dems Propose Tying Expanded Jobless Benefits to Economic and Public Health

May 8, 2020 by Dan McCue
New Dems Propose Tying Expanded Jobless Benefits to Economic and Public Health

WASHINGTON – Rep. Derek Kilmer, chairman of the New Democrat Coalition, joined with Rep. Don Beyer this week to release a draft framework for the Workers’ Relief and Security Act, bicameral legislation that would tie ongoing expanded unemployment benefits to the public health emergency and economic conditions.

The bill sponsored by Rep. Beyer, who is also a member of the New Democrat Coalition, would use automatic triggers to ensure that assistance continues to flow to workers for the duration of the pandemic and the resulting economic crisis even in the absence of action by Congress.

The legislation specifies that for the duration of extreme social distancing (tied to the president’s emergency declaration issued in March or a governor’s declaration), workers will face no limits on the benefits they can currently receive under the CARES Act, and benefits will continue for the duration of an economic crisis.

“In the face of an historic crisis, the federal government must take extraordinary steps to give the American people sustained help and prevent this economic downturn from becoming a depression,” said Beyer, a Virginia Democrat.

“This pandemic and the resulting economic crisis may continue to inflict horrifying suffering on the country for many months to come,” he continued. “Passing emergency relief legislation that incorporates automatic triggers would have the enormous benefit of ensuring assistance continues to flow to workers even if Congress itself is unable or unwilling to act.”

Beyer added: “I have had many conversations with colleagues about the ideas contained here, and expect them to receive strong consideration in ongoing discussions about future pandemic response legislation.”

Specifically, the framework says:

  • A worker who exhausts their traditional unemployment compensation benefits (funded by the state) will be able to receive additional unemployment benefits fully financed by the federal government without limit until 26 weeks after the end of extreme social distancing;
  • A worker receiving Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) benefits for those who do not qualify for traditional UI will also not face limits on the number of weeks they can draw benefits until 26 weeks after the end of the Public Health Emergency.
  • Workers receiving the extra $600 in weekly benefits (Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC)) will continue to receive it until 30 days after the end of the president’s emergency declaration, after which it will begin to phase down over 13 weeks.
  • Extended benefit periods and FPUC payments of various amounts will then continue to be available for the duration of the economic crisis, tied to national and state total unemployment rates (TUR).

“Since the onset of this pandemic, we’ve seen a repetition of the scene from ‘Jaws,’ where they acknowledge, ‘We’re gonna need a bigger boat,’” said Rep. Kilmer, of Washington State.

“That’s why the New Democrat Coalition believes automatic stabilizers need to be built into coronavirus response and recovery programs to trigger assistance when and where we need it, and ensure a sustainable and robust economic recovery,” Kilmer said.

“I applaud Rep. Don Beyer for his leadership on the Worker Relief and Security Act to trigger continued unemployment compensation benefits tied to the duration and economic impacts of this crisis,” he continued. “The nature of this pandemic and economic crisis is unprecedented and has created enormous uncertainty for the American people.  A bold step like this can provide some much-needed predictability.”

The legislation has been endorsed by former Federal Reserve chairs Janet Yellen and Ben Bernanke.

“An unthinkable 30 million American workers have already been displaced by the pandemic and the count continues to rise,” Yellen said. “They need relief and support for as long as the job market remains weak. That’s not only fair. It’s essential to support an economic recovery.

“The Worker Relief and Security Act is important because it guarantees that the CARES Act’s critical unemployment benefits will remain in place for however long they’re needed,” she said.

Bernanke agreed, saying he strongly supports a plan that would tie the generosity of unemployment benefits to measures of the unemployment rate.

“Such an approach delivers help quickly and automatically as needed, without Congress having to act, and likewise winds down extra assistance as conditions improve. This approach would not only help the unemployed in a timely way, it would also tend to stabilize the broader economy by increasing purchasing power in times of high unemployment,” said Bernanke.

The New Democrat Coalition continues to advocate for the use of automatic stabilizers to ensure the American people have access to critical resources without the need for additional congressional action if conditions persist or worsen.

Last month, the coalition’s leaders sent a letter to House Democratic Leadership and chairs of the standing house committees urging them to prioritize building automatic stabilizers into coronavirus assistance.The coalition also put forward a comprehensive package of policy recommendations and priorities for inclusion in Congress’s coronavirus response and economic recovery packages, including the use of automatic stabilizers.

In The News

Health

Voting

Congress

January 20, 2022
by Tom Ramstack
Puerto Rico’s Bankruptcy Approved After Struggle With Massive Debt

WASHINGTON — Puerto Rico’s five-year struggle to free itself from crushing debt ended Tuesday when a federal judge signed off... Read More

WASHINGTON — Puerto Rico’s five-year struggle to free itself from crushing debt ended Tuesday when a federal judge signed off on the U.S. territory’s bankruptcy plan. The restructuring cuts Puerto Rico’s public debt from $33 billion to just over $7.4 billion. The total debt from all... Read More

January 19, 2022
by Tom Ramstack
The Pandemic’s Natural Disaster Makes Congress Seek a Better Fix

WASHINGTON — As public health officials warned this week the U.S. COVID-19 death toll could reach 1 million by this... Read More

WASHINGTON — As public health officials warned this week the U.S. COVID-19 death toll could reach 1 million by this spring, a congressional panel on Wednesday considered what it would take to ensure it never happens again. Rep. Joseph Morelle, D-N.Y., talked about the increasing frequency... Read More

Biden to Highlight Progress, Ask for Patience Over Setbacks

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden on Wednesday will try to talk anxious Americans through the challenges of delivering on... Read More

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden on Wednesday will try to talk anxious Americans through the challenges of delivering on his lengthy to-do list as he holds a rare news conference to mark his first year in office and asks for patience with recent setbacks to... Read More

January 18, 2022
by Dan McCue
Jan. 6 Committee Subpoenas Giuliani, Other Trump Attorneys

WASHINGTON — The Select Committee to Investigate the Jan. 6 Attack on the United States Capitol issued subpoenas Tuesday evening... Read More

WASHINGTON — The Select Committee to Investigate the Jan. 6 Attack on the United States Capitol issued subpoenas Tuesday evening to Rudolph Giuliani, Jenna Ellis, Sidney Powell and Boris Epshteyn. In a tweet, the committee said simply, “The four individuals advanced unsupported theories about election fraud,... Read More

January 18, 2022
by Dan McCue
Langevin Sees Future in Retirement Rather Than Reelection

WASHINGTON — Rep. Jim Langevin, D-R.I., won’t be seeking reelection to Congress in the fall, bringing the curtain down on... Read More

WASHINGTON — Rep. Jim Langevin, D-R.I., won’t be seeking reelection to Congress in the fall, bringing the curtain down on an 11-term congressional career. “Nearly 40 years ago, a tragic accident left me paralyzed. My dreams of becoming a police officer were crushed, and I was... Read More

January 18, 2022
by Dan McCue
McNerney to Bid House Adieu After 2022

WASHINGTON — Rep. Jerry McNerney, D-Calif., the Northern California Democrat who jumped from energy to public service, announced Tuesday he’s... Read More

WASHINGTON — Rep. Jerry McNerney, D-Calif., the Northern California Democrat who jumped from energy to public service, announced Tuesday he’s retiring at the conclusion of his third term. McNerney joined 26 other Democrats who have announced they plan to leave Congress after the midterm elections. In... Read More

News From The Well
Exit mobile version