Congressman Rick Berg yesterday introduced the Helping Innovation of Re-Employment Services in States (HIRES) Act (H.R. 2731) to help get Americans back to work by giving states the opportunity to pursue options that would expedite the reemployment of individuals who currently receive unemployment compensation.
"With thousands of Americans struggling to get back to work, it's clear that Washington's one-size-fits-all approach to addressing our nation's unemployment needs has not worked," Berg stated. "Each state's situation is unique, and the HIRES Act will provide states with the freedom and flexibility to best serve their residents' needs to help strengthen our economy and get Americans back to work. North Dakota has the lowest unemployment rate in the nation. It is time to learn from the success of our state and empower other states to provide common sense solutions to reemployment."
The HIRES Act would allow states to best serve the needs of their unique populations by permitting states to apply for waivers to test a demonstration project designed to expedite reemployment of unemployment insurance (UI) recipients.
Under current law, the one-size-fits-all approach of the UI program prevents states from trying to innovate and improve the way they operate the program and put workers back to work. As such, states like North Dakota, which has the lowest unemployment in the nation, are held to the same requirements for the implementation of UI funds as states with high rates of unemployment.
The waivers proposed under the HIRES Act, which are cost-neutral and voluntary, would empower states to expand the UI program to include reemployment services. Federal programs such as Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) and Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) already enable states to apply for waivers to tailor the program to better meet the needs of its citizens. The HIRES Act would expand similar waiver authority to the UI program.
Berg is a member of the House Ways and Means Subcommittee on Human Resources, which has jurisdiction over unemployment insurance issues in the House. Berg, along with Ways and Means Chairman Dave Camp (R-MI) and Human Resources Subcommittee Chairman Geoff Davis (R-KY), introduced the JOBS Act in May, which provided states additional flexibility in how states utilize unemployment funds.