Wyden Statement on Republican Plan to Slash Unemployment Benefits, Sabotage State Unemployment Offices

Senate Finance Committee Ranking Member Ron Wyden, D-Ore., today released the following statement in reaction to key provisions of Republicans’ plan to slash unemployment benefits and sabotage state unemployment offices:  

“Having fully reviewed the details of Republicans’ unworkable plan to slash unemployment benefits, there are a number of problematic provisions to make it harder for workers to access benefits. 

“The first provision would kick unemployed workers off their health coverage in a pandemic by making the federal boost count toward income requirements for Medicaid and CHIP. It’s hard to imagine a more heartless policy than kicking people off their health care because they have just enough money to pay the rent.

“Another provision would create new red tape for workers to access the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program by requiring workers to submit additional documentation. State unemployment offices are already overwhelmed, and requiring additional documentation will create even greater delays for workers waiting to receive their benefits, causing even more financial stress. 

“A third provision would exclude many part-time workers from the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance Program. The CARES Act was specifically written to cover part-time workers given the unprecedented nature of this crisis. Republicans are trying to undo the CARES Act in this respect. 

“Lastly, the bill would grant the Secretary of Labor broad authority to require notices be sent to workers and businesses about program requirements. I fear that this broad authority could be used to intimidate workers into returning to an unsafe work environment.

“Taken together, it’s clear that Republicans’ goal is to undermine the unemployment benefits program at every turn—slash the $600 boost, sabotage state unemployment systems, restrict eligibility and make it as hard as possible to access benefits.

“Republican Governors and legislatures have sabotaged unemployment systems in a lot of states, which is why so many Americans have struggled to get the benefits they need during this crisis. It’s clear to me that Senate Republicans are now trying to run that same playbook of sabotage nationwide.”