Chairman Neal and Ranking Member Wyden Ask DOL for More Information to Understand Leader McConnell’s Cuts to Emergency Unemployment Benefits

Jul 27, 2020
Press Release

WASHINGTON, DC – Following the Senate GOP’s release of the HEALS Act, which cuts emergency federal unemployment benefits, House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard E. Neal (D-MA) and Senate Finance Committee Ranking Member Ron Wyden (D-OR) asked the Department of Labor (DOL) for information to better understand the potential burden on workers stuck in state unemployment offices’ processing backlogs.

“Today Senator McConnell announced a new proposal to cut benefits immediately and also require states to implement a complicated new application and benefit calculation,” wrote Chairman Neal and Ranking Member Wyden. “Both changes would require states to shift trained staff away from working on the backlog of applications in order to make changes in computer systems, application forms, and payment systems.”

The lawmakers requested the following from DOL: “First, please provide data on the unemployment benefit processing backlogs, nationally and by state, so that we can assess how many workers are still waiting due to lack of capacity in state unemployment offices, and what capacity those offices and their staff might have to take on new and complicated processes. Second, in May the Department provided technical assistance that said that states would find it ‘exceedingly difficult, if not impossible’ to implement a plan like the one proposed by Senator McConnell. Please provide to us any analysis you have done to assess the effect that the McConnell plan would have on wait times for unemployment benefits, payment errors, and other key administrative functions, both nationally and in each state. If DOL has not conducted such analysis, please let us know whether Senator McConnell or the White House requested analysis, and if so, when you expect to complete it.”

The full letter is available HERE.