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Ms. KAPTUR. I thank my esteemed colleague, Congressman Mike Michaud of Maine, for allowing me this time to join him and to rise in support of his motion to instruct conferees on a payroll tax cut extension bill that strikes a section that undermines the normal procedures of unemployment compensation to people who are out of work as it diverts those funds to other purposes.
Here we have the hardest of hearts that exist in this House, the majority on the other side of the aisle, who allowed the market to crash in 2008, putting millions of people out of work and then throwing millions more out of their homes and turning a cold eye toward them. And then proposed to cut heating assistance to those who are struggling across this country, and then a majority on the other side voting to not extend unemployment benefits to the victims. I didn't see any enthusiasm over there for prosecuting the big banks on Wall Street and those who had committed the fraud that got us into this mess in the first place. No, they want to cut it out of the hearts of the victims.
Now, the House Republican proposal in H.R. 3630 would allow States to apply for waivers to bypass basic protections and standards that now apply to the permanent unemployment extension program. States already have ample flexibility to determine eligibility for unemployment insurance benefits and to set the amount of those benefits, but they must now operate under a basic set of rules. For example, States are required to spend unemployment insurance funds solely on unemployment benefits. They must pay benefits when due, and they may not condition eligibility on issues beyond the fact and cause a person's unemployment. The Republican bill would circumvent these basic protections.
Under the proposed waiver policy, States could divert unemployment funds to other purposes, which seems particularly ill-timed when over half of the States' unemployment trust funds are insolvent because there's so many people still out of work. This diversion policy could lead to jobless individuals being denied weekly unemployment benefits and instead being offered less useful benefits. Furthermore, a waiver could allow new requirements to be imposed on unemployment insurance recipients, including a requirement that they perform a community service job to be eligible for benefits.
Unemployment insurance is an earned benefit for people who have worked hard. It's insurance. Effectively they have paid into those insurance funds and have lost their jobs through no fault of their own. These individuals must actively search for work to be eligible. I have people in my district that have sent out 400 resumes, knocked on hundreds and hundreds of doors. They want to work. And many receive services through the Federally funded one-stop employment centers. Regrettably, House Republicans that have consistently targeted this system for steep cuts in services at a time when they are needed most again have a proposal here.
You know, I really wonder why they don't focus as much attention on prosecution of the Wall Street perpetrators who got us into this mess in the first place. I think you've got the telescope turned around in the wrong direction. You ought to be caring for those who have an ethic of work and who have earned these benefits. And we need to recoup money to balance the budget and to meet our societal needs by making sure that prosecution occurs for those who took the Republic to the cleaners and are still fat and happy sitting in the same chairs that they were in back in 2008 up there on Wall Street.
So I would say to the gentleman I rise in strong support of your effort to
instruct the conferees and to protect the earned benefits of those in our society who build this country forward through thick and thin no matter what. They have earned the right to their unemployment benefits.
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