Republican Senators today introduced legislation that extends unemployment insurance benefits for five months and reforms the current program without adding to the national debt. Senators Dean Heller (R-NV), Susan Collins (R-ME), Rob Portman (R-OH), Dan Coats (R-IN), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Kelly Ayotte (R-NH), and Mark Kirk (R-IL) formulated the proposal.
"Over and over again, I have emphasized with my colleagues the importance of extending unemployment benefits for Nevadans and for people hurting across the country. This is a responsible proposal that makes important reforms to the current program that I believe will help garner necessary support to pass the Senate if it receives a vote. I will keep talking to my Republican and Democratic colleagues so that these benefits are extended for those who desperately need them," said Senator Heller.
"Our proposal responsibly pays for an extension of unemployment insurance benefits and enacts credible reforms to improve the program," said Senator Coats. "This is a sensible solution based on bipartisan ideas. If Democrats are serious about finding common ground on this issue, they will support it."
"With millions of Americans still suffering from the weak economic recovery, it's time for Washington to put partisanship aside and support this commonsense proposal," Senator Portman said. "Our proposal is fully paid for and will allow us to begin reforming a broken program that's failing to connect Americans with jobs. Since the beginning of the debate, I've stood ready to work in a bipartisan manner for a solution for the long-term unemployed. I'm hopeful my colleagues on both sides will get behind this proposal so we can start working on real, permanent solutions for the American people."
"Illinois has one of the highest unemployment rates in the country, and it has been a priority of mine to find a financially responsible and commonsense way to extend unemployment benefits for those in need of them," Senator Kirk said. "This is an issue that is affecting thousands of citizens, and I strongly urge my colleagues across the aisle to support this responsible legislation."
"This bill is a rational, reasonable proposal to help jobless Americans that combines ideas from across the aisle to help provide relief to over a million Americans impacted by the President's failed economic policies, and strengthen our current unemployment programs with real reforms to get people back to work," said Senator Murkowski. "This bill is fully paid for and strikes the right balance to provide support to those who most need it, both financially and structurally. If the Senate does not and will not allow this bill to come up for a vote - instead pushing a party-line measure paid for by budget gimmicks - it should be clear that they are more interested in cable TV talking points than helping Americans in need."
"This is a fiscally responsible path forward to provide unemployment insurance benefits to those who lost their jobs through no fault of their own and are searching for work but are unable to find it," said Senator Collins. "It also includes important reforms to better incorporate job training programs to help people find jobs in fields where employment exists."
"Our legislation is fully-paid for and includes needed reforms to a broken system that will help Americans get back on the job," said Senator Ayotte. "This is a common-sense solution that would not add to the debt but would provide some relief to the long-term unemployed while also taking steps to fix a program that isn't getting the jobless back to work."
Details of the fully paid for, five-month unemployment compensation extension:
* Extends federal unemployment insurance benefits for five months, allowing for retroactive benefits.
* Includes the following offsets:
o Extending pension smoothing provisions from the 2012 highway bill (MAP-21);
o Extending Customs User Fees through 2024;
o Eliminating overlapping UI/SSDI payments.
* Reforms the current program:
o Requires that Emergency Unemployment Compensation (EUC) applicants be assessed by the appropriate state or federal agency to determine why he/she remains unemployed and to identify steps the individual should take to improve employment prospects, such as enrollment in a job training program.
o Reforms the EUC program to strengthen requirements to ensure benefits go to those actively looking for work and those who truly want to return to the workforce. Prohibits individuals from receiving EUC if they fail to accept offers of suitable work or if they refuse to apply for suitable work referred to them by state employment agency.
o Ensures that limited federal unemployment resources are not being used to provide benefits to millionaires and billionaires.
o Eliminates overlapping UI and Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) payments, with exceptions for disabled individuals engaged in Ticket-to-Work programs.