Reps. Cori Bush, D-Mo., and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., are calling on Democratic leaders to add unemployment insurance reforms to their forthcoming $3.5 trillion Build Back Better Act spending plan, according to a report in The Hill.
The two progressive lawmakers sent a letter Thursday signed by 11 other Democrats to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer. The lawmakers said they wrote to ''express the urgency of including unemployment insurance (UI) reforms in the Build Back Better Act to protect the millions of unemployed workers across this country.''
The group asserts that the lack of a provision to expand unemployment aid in the party's spending plan would be ''felt most harshly by workers of color, who disproportionately live in the states with the lowest UI coverage rates and work in the jobs with the least access to unemployment benefits.''
''I've been very disappointed on both sides of the aisle that we've just simply allowed pandemic unemployment assistance to completely lapse, when we are clearly not fully recovered from the consequences of the pandemic,'' Ocasio-Cortez said earlier this week.
The legislators added in their communication with House and Senate leaders that a ''strong and responsive UI system not only helps our entire economy more quickly and equitably recover from future recessions, it is also an essential tool to help dislocated workers stay connected to the workforce and to provide for their families as they seek new employment.''
Some Republicans have a different view. A CNBC report Wednesday said that GOP lawmakers and business owners have blamed the weekly booster, which in some cases pays recipients more in benefits than their previous wages, for disincentivizing people from taking new jobs, even as the number of openings has surpassed the number of people looking for work in recent months.
The CNBC report added that several studies have shown jobless benefits actually have had minimal impact on hiring, and that concerns over the virus and ongoing child care challenges remain top issues for workers evaluating their job prospects amid the health crisis.
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