Reed Introduces the Strengthening UI for Coronavirus Impacted Workers and Students Act on the Senate Floor
Mr. President, today, I am introducing the Strengthening UI for Coronavirus Impacted Workers and Students Act.
For the 30 million American unemployed workers, the enhanced jobless benefits created in the CARES Act are a lifeline. However, the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation, which provides a $600- per-week benefit on top of an individual’s regular unemployment insurance (UI) benefits are set to expire on July 31, 2020.
Arbitrarily cutting these benefits off in the midst of an ongoing pandemic could make a desperate situation worse for individuals and harm the economy. Moreover, if these workers are prematurely pushed back into unsafe work environments, it will ultimately harm families, businesses, and communities. That is why my new legislation seeks to expand and enhance the unemployment insurance of the CARES Act.
Specifically, this bill would continue to offer out-of-work Americans the $600-per-week additional benefit through the end of the year and make it retroactive to the date of the coronavirus pandemic disaster declaration date. This legislation would also exempt these pandemic-specific benefits from being factored into eligibility for means-tested programs, such as Section 8 housing, SNAP, TANF, and WIC.
Furthermore, it would create a $300 Federal benefit for recent college graduates, students, and others who are willing and able to work absent COVID–19. but who do not have recent work history.
Finally, this legislation would codify guidance by the Department of Labor requiring employees who are participating in ‘‘work sharing’’ programs to be able to receive the $600-per-work boost. I added provisions to the CARES Act to Federally finance these cost-effective and job saving ‘‘work sharing’’ programs, which give struggling companies the flexibility to reduce hours instead of laying off their workforce, while allowing the employees to collect unemployment insurance on the days they are not working.
The bill is supported by numerous organizations including the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL–CIO), International Brotherhood of Teamsters, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), National Education Association (NEA), National Employment Law Project (NELP), National Low Income Housing Coalition (NLIHC), The Arc, United Auto Workers (UAW), National Alliance on Mental Illness. National Association of Councils on Developmental Disabilities, National Disability Rights Network, and National Women’s Law Center.
We have to be smart and this targeted, temporary measure will help ensure Americans who are out of work through no fault of their own can afford food, housing, and medicine until it is safe to go back to work. I am pleased to join my colleague in the other body, Representative Kildee, in sponsoring this legislation, and I look forward to working with my colleagues here and across the Capitol to secure passage of this important legislation.