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SPEECH: Walorski on Extra Jobless Benefits Putting Economic Recovery at Risk

Republican Leader of the Subcommittee on Worker and Family Support Rep. Jackie Walorski (R-IN) spoke on the House floor about the ongoing impact of enhanced unemployment benefits on Main Street businesses, the American workforce, and our economic recovery on Wednesday.

“The American people have faced unprecedented challenges since last spring,” Rep. Walorski said. “Now safe and effective vaccines have given us renewed hope that we can defeat COVID-19, rebuild our economy, and return to normal life. Let’s not put our recovery at risk by pushing workers to the sidelines of the economy. Let’s get Americans back to work, Main Street businesses back on their feet, and the American Dream back on track.”

Key takeaways:

  • Democrats recently extended supplemental unemployment benefits of $300 per week until September 6th as part of their $1.9 trillion spending bill.
  • The American Action Forum estimates nearly 40 percent of workers could make more on unemployment at this level than they would earn by returning to work.
  • This Fact Check shows how, despite claims otherwise, President Biden’s policies are still shoveling taxpayer-funded UI benefits towards workers who are passing up suitable employment.
  • In March, Rep. Walorski joined Ways and Means Committee Republican Leader Kevin Brady (R-TX) in introducing the Reopening America by Supporting Workers and Businesses Act, which would allow states to turn enhanced unemployment benefits into a one-time return-to-work bonus of either $1,200 or $600. It would also provide support for reemployment services for laid-off workers and reinstate the federal requirement that those receiving unemployment be engaged in actively searching for a job. Senate Finance Committee Republican Leader Sen. Mike Crapo (R-ID) introduced his companion bill in late April.

Video of Walorski speaking on the House floor is available here. Her remarks as prepared for delivery are below.

“I want to thank my colleague Congressman Bost for hosting this critical special order to discuss the ongoing impact of enhanced unemployment benefits on Main Street businesses, the American workforce, and our economic recovery.

“Like many of my colleagues, I’ve seen the Help Wanted signs at businesses across my district. I’ve heard from local job creators about the difficulties they face in hiring the workers they need. Many have told me they can’t even get people to show up for an interview. 

“Enhanced federal unemployment benefits made sense last year as a way to help those who lost a job and to reduce the economic impact of government-imposed business closures and stay-at-home orders. But now we are facing a much different situation. Safe and effective vaccines are bringing us closer to defeating COVID-19. Employers have updated their facilities and operations so workers can safely return to work. Businesses are fully reopening.

“Now is the time to reconnect unemployed workers with jobs. But enhanced jobless benefits are discouraging Americans from returning to work and making it harder for businesses to hire. The Democrats’ partisan, $1.9 trillion spending bill extended supplemental unemployment benefits of $300 per week until September 6th. At this level, nearly 40 percent of jobless Americans can make more on unemployment than they would earn by returning to work. 

“Main Street businesses shouldn’t have to compete with the federal government for workers. The current labor shortage is crushing small businesses, which are fighting to keep their businesses alive. In late March, I hosted a virtual roundtable and heard from a Hoosier who owns a small insulation business. He told me, “It’s been quite the burden to have all these tools on hand and not be able to put people in the seats because nobody wants to come and work.”

“And just last week, we saw the undeniable impact of these misguided policies when the monthly jobs report showed hiring slowed to a crawl in April – despite millions of job openings. My biggest fear is that we will see permanent job losses across our economy as small companies close their doors because they can’t hire the workers they need.

“But it’s not too late to avoid this outcome. I recently joined Ways and Means Republican Leader Kevin Brady in introducing the Reopening America by Supporting Workers and Business Act. Our bill would turn extra unemployment benefits into a back-to-work bonus that would incentivize workers to take a job instead of staying on unemployment.  The legislation would also reinstate the federal requirement that those receiving unemployment benefits be engaged in actively searching for a job. 

“The American people have faced unprecedented challenges since last spring. Now safe and effective vaccines have given us renewed hope that we can defeat COVID-19, rebuild our economy, and return to normal life. Let’s not put our recovery at risk by pushing workers to the sidelines of the economy. Let’s get Americans back to work, Main Street businesses back on their feet, and the American Dream back on track. 

“Thank you, and I yield back.”

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