Washington, D.C.—Today, Congressman Don Beyer (D-VA), the Vice Chair of the U.S. Congress Joint Economic Committee (JEC), released a report that argues that the next coronavirus relief legislation should tie unemployment benefits and other economic support to economic conditions—providing much-needed certainty to American families, businesses and state and local governments that they will have what they need for as long as the public health and economic crises last. As the report shows, an effective way to accomplish this is by including automatic triggers in the legislation, which would allow economic support to continue automatically until economic conditions are met or “triggered.”

Top economists such as Joseph Stiglitz, Paul Krugman and Heather Boushey have long supported using automatic stabilizers, which are similar to automatic triggers. In addition to providing certainty to American families, businesses, and state and local governments, using automatic triggers to provide unemployment insurance, Medicaid, SNAP and other forms of economic support would help the economy by slowing the recession and speeding up the recovery. Using automatic triggers would also strengthen consumer confidence and support for essential public health measures.

“Much of the current economic support provided by Congress expires on arbitrary dates, which means workers and their families could soon be left without a way to pay their bills or put food on the table. If we are asking people to follow stay-at-home orders, then they need to know that they will receive economic support as long as they need it. If staying at home means going broke, then people are not going to do it, and that puts us all at greater risk,” Congressman Beyer said.

Congressman Beyer continued, “When I think about the next coronavirus relief legislation, two words come to mind—automatic triggers, specifically those tied to economic conditions. Economists do not know whether it will take months or years for our economy to recover from this public health crisis so it critical that Congress automatizes assistance for workers and their families until the entire country—not just a few states—is back open for business." 

“Americans need to have confidence that they will get the help they need to outlast the crisis. They should not have to trust that Congress will pass the fifth or sixth relief legislation in time to save them from financial ruin,” Congressman Beyer said.

Congressman Beyer first called for the use of automatic triggers on April 9 after the Department of Labor reported first-time unemployment claims exceeded 6.6 million for the second week in a row. He called again for the use of automatic triggers on April 15 after the U.S. Census Bureau reported an 8.7 percent drop in retail sales during the month of March.

About Congressman Beyer

Congressman Beyer is currently serving his third term in the U.S. House of Representatives, representing Northern Virginia suburbs of the nation’s capital. In addition to his role as Vice Chair of the JEC, Beyer serves on the House Committee on Ways and Means and the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology. Previously, Beyer served at Lieutenant Governor of Virginia, Ambassador to Switzerland and built a successful family business over the course of four decades.