WASHINGTON – Top Republican on the House Ways and Means Committee Kevin Brady (R-TX) today applauded U.S. Senate Finance Committee Ranking Member Mike Crapo (R-ID) and Sens. Jim Risch (R-ID) and Tommy Tuberville (R-AL) for introducing the Back to Work Bonus Act to help Main Street businesses struggling to find workers.
“As more Americans get vaccinated and states roll back restrictions on businesses, now is the time to reconnect workers with jobs,” Rep. Brady said. “The pandemic has hit Main Street businesses hard. Now businesses are competing with enhanced unemployment benefits for workers. A Return to Work Bonus, which would allow states to provide a bonus to unemployed workers if they accept a job offer, can make sure temporary job losses don’t turn into permanent ones.”
“The economy is showing strong signs of recovery, and a record number of Americans are being vaccinated each day,” Sen. Crapo said. “However, a growing economy requires a willing and able workforce, and many small businesses are having trouble competing with enhanced unemployment benefits. A back-to-work bonus provides an incentive to return to work safely, and will help to accelerate our economic recovery.”
The Senate bill is a companion to legislation introduced by Rep. Brady and House Republicans last month: The Reopening America by Supporting Workers and Businesses Act of 2021.
The additional $300/week in supplemental unemployment benefits means an estimated 40% of workers are receiving more on unemployment than when they were working, resulting in a severe labor shortage across the country, especially for the retail, restaurant, manufacturing and service industries trying to reopen.
Both bills would:
- Provide time limited back-to-work bonuses: Makes work pay by allowing states to provide 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.