Washington, DC – Today, Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp (R-MI), along with Human Resources Subcommittee Chairman Geoff Davis (R-KY) and Human Resources Subcommittee member Rick Berg (R-ND), introduced the Jobs, Opportunity, Benefits and Services (JOBS) Act of 2011 (HR 1745) in the U.S. House of Representatives. Identical legislation was introduced in the U.S. Senate by Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT), the Ranking Republican on the Senate Finance Committee. Like the Ways and Means Committee in the House, the Finance Committee has jurisdiction over unemployment benefit issues in the Senate.
The JOBS Act provides States new flexibility in spending the remaining $31 billion in Federal unemployment funds that will be spent during the rest of this year. Under current law, that money could only be spent for unemployment benefits stretching up to 99 weeks in many States. Under the JOBS Act, States could also use the money to prevent job-destroying unemployment tax hikes or for programs designed to get unemployed workers back on the job. Under the bill there will be no changes to how a State’s share of the $31 billion is spent unless a State affirmatively enacts legislation to do so.
Ways and Means Chairman Camp stated, “The JOBS Act is about giving States the flexibility to spend current funds better, preventing job-destroying tax hikes and helping unemployed individuals find new jobs. It doesn’t add to the deficit, and simply lets States use current funds more wisely. At the same time, it includes reforms that will make the unemployment benefits system work better in the long run – promoting more job search and education and training needed to help the unemployed get back to work sooner. And it allows States to apply for innovative pro-reemployment waivers of Federal UI law, like the waivers that led to successful welfare reforms of the 1990s.”
Senate Finance Committee Ranking Member Hatch commented, “Hitting our nation’s job creators with significant tax hikes as a means of replenishing state unemployment programs is bad policy that undermines the ultimate goal a robust economic recovery. This legislation is a fiscally-smart way of empowering states by giving them the flexibility they need to strengthen programs for the unemployed, while promoting a pro-growth environment to spur job creation.”
Human Resources Subcommittee Chairman Davis said, “This is a prime example of a Federal program in need of an update. The JOBS Act improves the federal unemployment insurance program by shedding the current one-size-fits-all approach. There are different needs, for example, in Kentucky than there are in North Dakota. This bill will allow States the flexibility to make better choices about how to spend Federal unemployment benefit dollars, including improved training and job placement efforts or preventing tax increases on our job creators. This bill will improve outcomes and help to get more people back to work without increasing the deficit.”
Ways and Means Member Rep. Berg added, “The JOBS Act offers common sense reforms that recognize a one-size-fits-all approach doesn’t work. Every State has different needs, and the JOBS Act will give States the freedom to use federal unemployment funds in ways that will best assist their residents—whether by investing in reemployment resources or averting unemployment tax hikes that hurt employers’ ability to create jobs. By providing States with more flexibility, they can wisely use funds to help strengthen our economy and get Americans back to work.”