WASHINGTON—With federal unemployment insurance benefits expiring this week amid negotiations on COVID-19 relief, U.S. Senators Mitt Romney (R-UT), Susan Collins (R-ME), and Martha McSally (R-AZ) today introduced legislation that would prevent Americans from experiencing a sudden lapse in their supplemental benefits. The CARES Act authorized an extra $600 per week in federal unemployment payments, on top of state unemployment benefits. Today’s legislation incentivizes states to improve outdated unemployment insurance programs to better handle wage replacement, and ensures unemployed workers receiving federal benefits will maintain an average of $400 per week for the next three months as those payments are phased down. Text of the legislation is available here.
“Unemployed workers should not be left in limbo while Congress continues to negotiate the next relief package,” Senator Romney said. “Our solution extends the supplemental benefits for three months and incentivizes states to update their UI processing systems. We should act with urgency to help the millions of Americans who are on the verge of losing these additional benefits.”
“Earlier this year, Congress took the important step of boosting unemployment benefits rapidly in order to assist the growing number of Americans who lost their jobs through no fault of their own,” Senator Collins said. “As Congress continues to debate additional federal relief, we must avoid a sharp drop in benefits that would cause further harm to families that have been hit hard by the pandemic. The phased approach our bill creates would help individuals who have been laid off by compensating them for their lost wages in a way that does not create a disincentive to return to work if they are able to do so. At the same time, it would support states’ efforts to upgrade their unemployment systems.”
The Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation Extension Act of 2020 stops the impending unemployment insurance benefit disruption by:
- Allowing states to choose one of two options for UI;
- Immediate 80% wage replacement, or
- A declining amount of $500 per week in August, $400 per week in September, or $300 per week in October
- And providing an additional $2 billion for states to update their UI systems to better handled targeted wage replacement.