When the pandemic began in the United States in March of last year, Congress quickly passed the CAREs Act, which made significant changes to unemployment insurance. Through two main programs, Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) and Emergency Pandemic Compensation (PEUC), the the federal government was able to extend the number of weeks the unemployed could apply for benefits and increase the value of their benefits.
The PEUC also granted the unemployed an additional $ 300 per week. But those programs ended on Labor Day, putting millions of Americans in financial jeopardy before the pandemic was over. Some 26 states had already terminated federal programs prematurely, hoping for a rebound in employment, but that did not materialize.
Remember when everyone in the media repeated the Chamber of Commerce lie about insisting that unemployment benefits discourage work, then politicians justified cutting benefits, then it turned out that it was a lie and no one apologized because millions of people were injured?
– David Sirota (@davidsirota) September 28, 2021
Now politicians want some of these benefits to continue beyond 2021.
What is the Unemployment Insurance Improvement Act?
The three Democrats asking for improved benefits are Finance Committee Chairman Ron Wyden, D-Ore .; Michael Bennet, D-Colo .; and Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio. Despite their push last week, changes to unemployment benefits were not in the original bill, but many changes could still happen.
“This proposal is a down payment on the long overdue reform of our unemployment system and was designed to fit into our next package,” Wyden said. ” Above all, this would slow down the race to the bottom of benefits, ensuring six months of benefits and coverage for part-time workers.
WASHINGTON (AP) – Unemployment claims in the United States rise for the third week in a row to 362,000.
– Zeke Miller (@ZekeJMiller) September 30, 2021
The changes would ensure states cover 26 weeks of benefits and part-time workers, and ensure that states are not able to discriminate against workers by determining eligibility based on past salary records. Many states already have 26 weeks of benefits, but others do not. These are Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Idaho, Kansas, Missouri, North Carolina, and South Carolina. The smallest number of paid weeks is North Carolina, with only 13 weeks of assistance. All of these states have unemployment rates below the national average based on August figures.
Will it be included in the $ 3.5 trillion bill?
Any change in unemployment benefits would prove costly and, due to the composition of the Senate, any price increase is likely to be categorically refused. Democrats and Republicans are split 50-50 in the Senate and two Democratic senators, Joe Manchin and Kristen Sinema, have hesitated over the cost of the bill. They both prefer something closer to $ 1.5 trillion, barely a quarter of the original plans for a $ 6 trillion bill.
This relatively small amount was also rejected by progressives.. They feel even more betrayed by their party because of the split in bipartisan infrastructure and the $ 3.5 trillion bills. The plan was to pass them together to pass Biden’s entire agenda, but they’ve now been split in an attempt to get them across the line.
Moderates and progressives clash over the bills and unless they are passed before the end of October, there could be serious repercussions for Americans who would benefit from the bills, as well as for the chances of Americans. Democrats to win the midterm elections in 2022.