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WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Congressman David Schweikert (AZ-06) joined Ways and Means Republican Leader Kevin Brady and 13 original Republican cosponsors in introducing the Reopening America by Supporting Workers and Businesses Act of 2021. This bill will help local businesses rebuild their workforce quickly by turning enhanced unemployment benefits into a back-to-work bonus that will provide a bump to workers and help accelerate our economic recovery.
“As our economy continues to recover from this pandemic, we must ensure our policy is incentivizing individuals to return to work,” said Rep. Schweikert. “Too many businesses are still struggling to retain workers, particularly following the extension of enhanced unemployment insurance benefits through September of 2021 in the $1.9 trillion spending package. As communities begin to re-open, this legislation will help incentivize individuals to return to work, resulting in reduced unemployment and a stronger labor force. I am pleased to join this effort with my colleagues and I look forward to continuing to promote pro-growth policies to help us return to the record-breaking economic growth we saw just a year ago.”
The $1.9 trillion spending bill provided an extension of $300/week in supplemental unemployment benefits through September 6. As states begin to reopen, the expansion of benefits has presented serious challenges for businesses trying to hire or recall workers, especially employers in the Paycheck Protection Program.
Main Street businesses are seeking relief from hiring challenges caused by enhanced unemployment benefits. The additional $300/week in benefits means as many as 37% of workers receive more on unemployment than their paycheck, creating a disincentive to return to work. The National Federation of Independent Businesses Research Center said that job openings in February reached an all-time record high as 40% of small firms have an open position that they aren’t able to currently fill.
Nobody should have to choose between earning a steady paycheck and making even more by not working at all. The Reopening America by Supporting Workers and Businesses Act of 2021 would help connect unemployed workers with jobs to get the economy going again. The bill includes:
Time limited back-to-work bonuses: Makes work pay by providing a one-time payment of either $1,200 (full-time) or $600 (part-time) to unemployed workers that obtain employment, comparable to a hiring bonus. The bonus requires verification from an individual’s employer of their hours and earnings and would be available through July 1, 2021.
Reemployment services: In recognition of the increased need for support to laid off workers, the bill accelerates a scheduled increase in funding for Reemployment Services and Eligibility Assessments (RESEA) and expands the pool of eligible workers to include those receiving benefits through CARES Act unemployment programs, including Pandemic Unemployment Assistance.
Reinstate job search requirement: The bill reinstates the federal work search requirement for individuals receiving unemployment. Last March, when businesses were closed, Congress provided flexibility for states to waive this requirement. Thirty-two states continue to have a waiver in place. Reopening the economy will require connecting all available workers to job openings.
A section-by-section summary of the bill is available here.
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