Senators Carper and Collins Introduce Bill to Give States Greater Flexibility for Unemployment Insurance Benefits

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senators Tom Carper (D-Del.), senior member of the Senate Finance Committee, and Susan Collins (R-Maine) introduced the Workforce Support and Flexibility Act, legislation that would increase state-level flexibility regarding federal unemployment insurance benefits.

“Throughout the coronavirus pandemic, expanded federal unemployment insurance benefits have been a lifeline for millions of workers in Delaware and across our country. As we continue to rebuild our economy and get more shots in the arms of Americans, we must expand access to good-paying jobs and help get people safely back to work,” said Carper. “We can work towards this goal by giving governors greater flexibility with federal unemployment benefits so that they can make the best choice for their respective states.”

“Early in the pandemic, Congress boosted federal unemployment benefits rapidly in order to assist the growing number of Americans who lost their jobs during the pandemic through no fault of their own. Now, as our country emerges from this public health and economic crisis, states should have much more flexibility to adjust these benefits to best suit their workers and employers, provide the right incentives, and foster job creation. Our bipartisan legislation would empower states by eliminating the all-or-nothing approach in current law that forces them to choose between taking the full $300 unemployment benefit or forgoing it entirely,” said Collins.  

Currently, states only have an “on or off” switch option – meaning they can only opt in or opt out of the $300/week from the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC) Program. The Workforce Support and Flexibility Act would give states a “dimmer” switch – allowing governors the flexibility to decide the dollar amount, between $0 to $300, for weekly benefits provided under FPUC.

The Workforce Support and Flexibility Act is supported by Third Way and the National Restaurant Association. A one-pager of the legislation can be found here, and the full text of the legislation can be found here.