Neal, Davis Statement on GAO Report on Racial Disparities in Pandemic Unemployment Insurance Benefits

Jun 17, 2021
Press Release

WASHINGTON, DC—Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard E. Neal (D-MA) and Worker and Family Support Subcommittee Chairman Danny K. Davis (D-IL) released the following statement in response to the Government Accountability Office’s (GAO) report, “Management Report: Preliminary Information on Potential Racial and Ethnic Disparities in the Receipt of Unemployment Insurance Benefits during the COVID-19 Pandemic”:

“Today’s GAO report clearly demonstrates that white workers who apply for unemployment insurance benefits are more likely to receive them than Black workers, and this  is wholly unacceptable. We already knew people of color were disproportionately more likely to get sick from COVID-19, and more likely to lose their jobs, and now, we are finding out that on top of all of that, they were also shut out of this lifeline program. This is not only illegal, but morally wrong. It’s clear that aggressive oversight of state unemployment insurance systems must be done to understand the root cause of these disparities, and to ensure eligible workers receive their rightful, earned benefits.

“In the American Rescue Plan, we allocated $2 billion to the Department of Labor (DOL) to directly address problems with UI benefits not going to the workers who need them, and we applaud the Biden Administration for the solutions they are implementing now and for continuing to work with us on additional actions. More must be done, which is why Ways and Means Committee Democrats are working on legislation to give DOL the full authority it needs to conduct adequate oversight, hold states to the highest standards, and root out discrimination. The Committee’s Racial Equity Initiative was established to lead our work in putting an end to disparities like these, and we remain steadfast in our commitment to achieving both racial and economic justice.”