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Blue Dogs Back Bipartisan Return to Work Legislation

August 4, 2021 by Dan McCue
Rep. Mikie Sherrill, D-N.J.

WASHINGTON — The Blue Dog Coalition of House Democrats is throwing its considerable influence behind a bill that aims to help unemployed Americans return to work by ensuring they do not lose income when they take a new job.

The Strengthening Unemployment Programs to Provide Opportunities for Recovery and Training for New Workers Act, was introduced by Reps. Mikie Sherrill, of New Jersey, chair of the coalition’s task force on National Security; Abigail Spanberger, of Virginia, the Blue Dog Coalition’s co-chair for Communications; and Republican Peter Meijer, of Michigan..

“Throughout the small business walks that I’ve conducted across [my district], I’ve heard about the difficulty in finding workers to fully re-open our businesses, as well as the continued struggle that working families face with childcare issues and barriers to re-entering the workforce,” said Sherrill.

“As our economic challenges continue to evolve, we must support our small businesses who are working to fully re-open while ensuring continued support for families in need. This legislation will help us do both. I’m so proud this bill is receiving the endorsement of the Blue Dog Coalition, and I look forward to working with the Coalition’s members and both parties to get it passed.”

The SUPPORT for New Workers Act creates the Newly Employed Worker Allowance, which will provide individuals who have become employed after previously receiving unemployment insurance with weekly payments of $180 (60% of their previous $300 per week Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation benefit) from the time they become employed until the expiration of the enhanced federal benefit on Sept. 6, 2021.

The $180 payments will be made up to a maximum of nine weeks.

If a state determines that it is unable to provide these payments promptly due to administrative challenges, it can instead provide a one-time payment to newly employed individuals that is equal to $180 per week multiplied by the number of weeks from the individual’s start of employment to Sept. 6 (again up to a maximum of nine weeks).

Individuals are eligible for these payments if they become employed on or after the date that this legislation is enacted. States will begin providing payments to eligible individuals immediately after they become employed.

The legislation does not change the benefits that are available to unemployed workers. They will continue to receive state and federal benefits as currently exist, but under this legislation would now be eligible for the Newly Employed Worker Allowance if they gain employment.

“Central Virginia’s workers need continued support as we recover from the pandemic. Simultaneously, many of our region’s small businesses and restaurants are struggling to keep up with unforeseen costs as they rehire employees and return to full capacity,” Spanberger said. 

“Our SUPPORT for New Workers Act is a bipartisan, common sense bill that would use existing federal funding to provide a percentage of unemployment benefits to Americans who head back into the workforce — while also giving our businesses an additional tool for recruiting and hiring high-skilled employees.”

“Americans are ready to get back to work, but for many, financial hardships are standing in their way,” said Rep. Lou Correa, of California, chair of the coalition’s Task Force on Jobs and Economic Growth.

“I joined my colleagues in support of the bipartisan SUPPORT for New Workers Act because it ensures families are better prepared as they transition back to work. The COVID-19 pandemic has pushed many families to their breaking point,” he said.

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