Letter to the Hon. Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the House of Representatives, and the Hon. Steny Hoyer, House Majority Leader - Rep. Susie Lee, Colleagues Call on House Leadership to Pass Extension of Emergency Unemployment Benefits
Dear Speaker Pelosi and Leader Hoyer:
Thank you for taking decisive steps to save the U.S. Postal Service by scheduling a vote on legislation this weekend. The Postal Service provides an essential service to every American and is a lifeline to many, including our seniors and our veterans. While rescuing the Postal Service is crucial, it is equally important that we provide a lifeline to the 30 million Americans who are relying on unemployment insurance. Therefore, we ask, as members return to Washington to address the crisis at the USPS, that the House consider legislation like the Worker Relief and Security Act (Beyer/Kilmer).
The Worker Relief and Security Act would extend unemployment benefits to those who need it and ensure benefits last for the duration of the recession by tying continued enhanced unemployment insurance to the health crisis and economic indicators. It has been 18 days since the weekly $600 enhanced unemployment benefits expired, leaving 30 million Americans in a lurch. We owe it to people waiting to get back to work across the country not only to extend unemployment benefits to help them pay their bills, but to tie these benefits to economic conditions so workers are not held hostage by another cliff like this one.
Nearly 30 million Americans, or one in five workers, are currently relying on unemployment benefits to keep a roof over their head, put food on the table, and keep their kids healthy. The enhanced unemployment compensation of $600 per week provided families support to meet their needs, replaced lost earnings, stabilized household spending, and in turn, stimulated the broader economy.
Since the $600 supplement has expired, countless constituents have reached out to our offices, expressing heartbreaking stories, in which they must choose between paying for groceries or their car payment. Some can make it through the next few months but are worried about what will happen once savings run out. Our economic footing is fragile.
As you know, during the last recession, Congress extended emergency unemployment benefits 13 times. This time, we seem headed for an even more perilous path as Republicans have already blown past the deadline to extend the enhanced unemployment compensation with reckless abandon, satisfied by the President's woefully inadequate Executive Order.
The Worker Relief and Security Act would automatically continue, expand, and adjust enhanced unemployment insurance programs based on public health and economic triggers through the duration of the crisis without the need for further congressional action. Specifically, the bill would extend the $600 weekly federal pandemic unemployment compensation (FPUC) for the duration of the national COVID-19 health emergency, and then continue and adjust the weekly federal unemployment compensation amount and number of available unemployment benefit weeks dependent on the state total unemployment rate.
As Democrats, we know how important it is to get aid to the people who need it most. While there are various proposals to extend unemployment benefits, the only way to provide financial relief to millions of Americans without being subject to political hurdles, is to enact automatic stabilizers for unemployment benefits. By passing legislation that ties unemployment benefits to economic triggers, we can ensure that aid is restored to those who need it and prevent future lapses as long as the economy tells us aid is needed.
We appreciate your diligence and steadfast commitment to American workers and hope you will move forward this legislation for consideration.