February 13, 2014
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Senators Rob Portman (R-Ohio) and Dan Coats (R-Ind.) today offered an amendment to the Military Pension COLA bill – currently under consideration in the Senate – that would pay for an extension of the emergency unemployment insurance benefits for three months and include measures to reform the program.
“With a record number of long-term unemployed in America, it’s time to reform a system that clearly is not working to get the unemployed back in a job. We need an extension of unemployment insurance for the millions who are suffering from Washington’s failed policies,” said Portman. “But we should pay for that extension so as not to add to our record debt, and we should include reforms that connect the unemployed with the jobs that are available. Our amendment is a reasonable solution based on bipartisan proposals to pay for an extension of emergency unemployment insurance benefits and reform the program so it works for the American people.”
“This amendment is based on bipartisan proposals and will help ensure that only those Americans who truly cannot find work will have the help they need to get back on their feet,” said Coats. “This is a reasonable solution that pays for an extension of emergency unemployment insurance benefits and reforms the program.”
The Portman-Coats amendment would:
- Fully offset the three-month extension of emergency unemployment insurance benefits by using proposals originally supported by Senate Democrats. The offsets include:
- Prohibiting overlapping payments for unemployment insurance benefits and Social Security disability benefits.
- Providing pension funding relief to accommodate for unrealistically low interest rates.
- Extending savings proposed by the Majority for an additional year at the end of the current 10-year budget window. This amendment also exempts Medicare providers from further cuts and includes specific language to ensure that sequestration of defense resources is not increased.
- Reform the program by strengthening existing requirements to ensure unemployment benefits are going to individuals actively trying to return to the labor force. This amendment would prohibit individuals from receiving Emergency Unemployment Compensation benefits if they fail to accept any offer of suitable work or if they refuse to apply for suitable work referred to them by a state employment agency. States would have flexibility to enforce this requirement consistent with their state laws.
The expanded emergency unemployment benefits program was a temporary program first created after the fiscal crisis of 2008. The benefits expired at the end of December 2013. The Senate has failed twice to receive 60 votes necessary to complete action on an extension of the emergency unemployment insurance benefits.