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Chairman Neal Reiterates Urgent Need to Extend Full $600 Emergency Unemployment Compensation

July 22, 2020
Press Release
Slams GOP calls for a payroll tax cut and proposed adjustments to the benefit amount that would further overwhelm state unemployment offices and delay the administration of payments

WASHINGTON, DC – As the July 31 expiration date of the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC) program rapidly approaches, Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard E. Neal (D-MA) today reiterated that the Senate must follow the House’s lead, extend the full $600 benefit beyond the end of the month, and do so swiftly to avoid any lapse in assistance for vulnerable Americans who cannot yet safely return to work.

“Workers and families are in complete crisis, and the emergency unemployment benefits Congress established in the CARES Act are what is allowing them to survive these perilous times,” said Chairman Neal. “It’s difficult to imagine conditions worsening in our nation, but if Senate Republicans cut off this lifeline, more people will lose their homes, more families will go hungry, and our economy will further falter in the midst of this recession.”

According to Ways and Means Committee analysis, if Senate Republicans allow emergency unemployment compensation to end on July 31, on average, recipients of the assistance will experience a shocking 64 percent cut to their weekly benefits. As the Congressional Budget Office detailed in a recent report, the expiration of FPUC will disproportionately harm women, young workers, and communities of color.

“Some in the GOP have proposed continuing the aid but at a reduced amount that varies based on each individual’s prior earnings. This approach would place an even greater burden on state unemployment offices that are already completely overwhelmed, potentially delaying the payment of benefits for months,” the Chairman said. “The President and some others in the Republican Party also favor the idea of a payroll tax cut, which would do much more harm than good. That idea simply does not help families in need – it favors corporations and the wealthy, it takes months to actually go into effect, and it drains money from Social Security and Medicare.”  

In technical assistance provided to the Ways and Means Committee on May 15, 2020, the Department of Labor wrote that it “strongly opposes a change in the FPUC program that would base the amount paid on the amount an individual claimant was paid.” The guidance highlighted that states “have had extraordinary challenges in implementing a payment in a flat amount on top of benefit payments in multiple programs,” and “would find it exceedingly difficult, if not impossible, to implement a unique payment amount in addition to the various benefit payments to which FPUC applies, from both a technology standpoint, but also with getting adequate information on which to determine the amount payable.”

Regarding the President’s payroll tax cut proposal, experts agree it would fail to help out-of-work Americans, not spur economic growth, be exceedingly difficult to implement, and further compromise Social Security and Medicare.

“For months, I have said that we will not be able to recover economically from COVID-19’s impacts until we successfully address the public health crisis,” added Chairman Neal. “As cases, hospitalizations, and deaths continue to rise across the nation, there is no arguing that the Trump Administration has failed to coherently manage the pandemic and keep Americans safe. Families are in anguish as the White House flounders. Abruptly ending emergency unemployment compensation will only create more pain and suffering. It is utterly heartless for the GOP to threaten suddenly depriving Americans of the emergency aid that they need to weather this pandemic and eventually get back on their feet financially.”

Read more from the Ways and Means Committee about the benefits of extending emergency unemployment compensation HERE.

More detailed information about the unemployment extension provisions in the House-passed Heroes Act can be found HERE

 

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