Leader Schumer And Ranking Member Wyden Introduce Bold, New Legislation To Extend Expanded Unemployment Insurance & Require Program Continue Providing Benefits Until Each State’s Economic Conditions Improve
Sens. Schumer And Wyden Call For Long-Term Unemployment Insurance Support As States Grapple With Sharp Rise In COVID-19 Cases
New Proposal Would Take Politics Out Of Extending Unemployment Insurance And Protect Working Families’ Living Standards
Washington, D.C.—Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Senate Committee on Finance Ranking Member Ron Wyden (D-OR) today introduced the American Workforce Rescue Act, bold, new legislation that would establish “automatic stabilizers” to ensure unemployment benefits remain available for working families during periods of persistent unemployment, a priority for Senate Democrats in the next COVID-19 bill. Specifically, Leader Schumer and Ranking Member Wyden’s proposal would extend the $600 increase in weekly UI benefits, which Senate Democrats secured in the CARES Act, beyond July 31st, 2020 until a state’s three-month average total unemployment rate falls below 11%. The benefit amount then reduces by $100 for every percentage point decrease in the state’s unemployment rate, until the rate falls below 6%.
These critical, enhanced unemployment insurance benefits included in the CARES Act are set to expire at the end of July 2020.Meanwhile, more than 33 million Americans are currently receiving unemployment insurance or are still awaiting benefit approval. Over-burdened, under-resourced state and local-governments are grappling with unprecedented economic turmoil—and many Americans who returned to work have again been laid off.
While enhanced unemployment benefits are set to expire in 31 days, it’s clear the unemployment crisis will not. Senators Schumer and Wyden’s legislation gives American families confidence that they will be able to draw on these vital UI benefits to pay rent and put food on the table as long as the economic crisis continues. Expanded unemployment benefits established in earlier COVID-19 legislation remain a critical lifeline for workers and families. All Americans—particularly lower-wage workers and communities of color ravaged by COVID-19—must remain equipped with the resources needed to stay afloat during the current, pandemic-fueled economic crisis, and the recovery period to come.
Senators Schumer and Wyden’s bold, new legislation would extend critical unemployment benefits in each state based on economic conditions—not arbitrary cut-off dates established by Congress that disregard need. The American Workforce Rescue Act also extends the 13 weeks of extended benefits provided by the Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) program in the CARES Act until March 27, 2021, and these benefits will remain available for as long as a state’s unemployment rate is above 5.5%, with the number of weeks of benefits available increasing by 13 for each percentage point the unemployment rate increases between 5.5% and 8.5%. Additionally, the bill extends other critical unemployment benefits included in the CARES Act, including the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA), which provides coverage to the self-employed, gig workers, and others who are not eligible for traditional unemployment insurance, through March 2021, after which the benefits are tied to states’ unemployment levels.
Coronavirus relief must meet and reflect the country’s economic condition. Leader Schumer and Ranking Member Wyden’sAmerican Workforce Rescue Act meets this challenge.
“If we fail to renew the $600 per week increase in UI, millions of American families will have their legs cut out from underneath them at the worst possible time—in the middle of a pandemic when unemployment is higher than it’s been since the Great Depression,” said Leader Schumer. “The American Workforce Rescue Act would tie the extension of enhanced UI benefits to economic data—not politics. As the need goes down, so will the benefits. As the need goes up, so will the benefits.”
“Donald Trump has simply given up on fighting the virus and cases are surging in state after state, with many businesses closing their doors for a second time,” said Ranking Member Wyden. “In the face of exploding outbreaks and unprecedented economic pain, it would be unconscionable to allow supercharged unemployment benefits to expire in a month. Supercharged unemployment benefits need to be extended and tied to economic conditions on the ground. Workers who have been laid off twice in four months should not have to worry about whether they’ll be able to pay rent come August.”