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Joint Economic Committee Democrats Chairman - Rep. Don Beyer (D-VA)

Press Releases

August 28, 2020 (Washington, D.C.) – Rep. Don Beyer today blasted the Trump Administration’s announcement that it would begin deferring withholding payroll taxes in September for federal employees, a move that could hit thousands with unanticipated large tax bills next year. Beyer, who represents the largest number of federal employees of any U.S. Representative, serves on the House Ways and Means Subcommittee on Select Revenue Measures, which has jurisdiction over tax policy.

“The Trump Administration’s plan to initiate payroll tax deferrals for civil servants treats the federal workforce as a guinea pig for a bad policy that businesses already rejected as ‘unworkable,’” said Beyer. “This payroll tax deferral does not really put money in workers’ pockets, it simply sets up the members of the federal workforce who can least afford it for a big tax bill that many will not expect. Like Donald Trump’s other economic executive orders, this will not provide actual relief to workers, it is just another gimmick intended to give the appearance of action as the White House continues to stall negotiations for a real stimulus package. The legal authority for this announcement is at best dubious, the policy will do more harm than good, and I intend to press the Administration about this.”

The announcement on payroll tax deferral for federal employees, made in a memo published by the National Finance Center, followed President Trump’s Executive Order “deferring payroll tax obligations” issued on August 8. Business groups previously rejected the order as “unfair” and “unworkable.”

The National Finance Center’s (NFC) legal authority to issue such a proclamation in the absence of guidance from the Treasury Department is highly dubious.

The Social Security Administration’s Chief Actuary wrote to members of the Senate earlier this week that the Trump Administration’s plan to defer payroll tax contributions would force Social Security benefit cuts by 2021 and “permanently deplete” a key Social Security trust fund by 2023.

August 25, 2020 (Washington, D.C.) – Monday marked two weeks since Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin predicted states would have the Lost Wages Assistance (LWA) unemployment program created by Executive Order up and running within two weeks, but only two states—representing less than 10 percent of national continuing unemployment insurance claims—reported having actually distributed aid through the program. Even in those states only a fraction of eligible recipients received payments to date, so the actual figure is likely significantly lower.

Guidance from the Department of Labor and FEMA indicated that states approved for LWA are only guaranteed to receive three weeks of the cut-in-half unemployment benefit, dependent on the level of funding remaining in FEMA’s Disaster Relief Fund (DRF). According to FEMA the DRF “fund(s) eligible response and recovery efforts associated with domestic major disasters and emergencies;” major disasters have been declared recently in Iowa, California, and several gulf states.

“Economists, governors, and workers widely agree that President Trump’s smoke and mirrors executive orders simply are not good enough,” said Rep. Don Beyer, Vice Chair of Congress’ Joint Economic Committee. “It has been a month now since Senate Republicans shamefully allowed enhanced unemployment benefits to expire. The American people need real relief that fights the pandemic and puts money in workers’ pockets – posturing and gimmicks will not solve the enormous problems they face. If the White House does not get serious about the level of aid that is needed it will imperil the economic recovery.”

The White House has continued to resist compromise on a new economic relief package, and growing numbers of American families are suffering without the help they need from the federal government. The Administration began the week with more false claims about the economy and boasts about the stock market, but clear warning signs abound:

Washington Post: Debt, eviction and hunger: Millions fall back into crisis as stimulus and safety nets vanish

CNBC: Economists see a chance of a double-dip recession, survey shows

Bloomberg: Millions of U.S. Jobs to Be Lost for Years, IRS Projections Show

Politico: Economy hurting after Congress fails to act on stimulus

Washington Post: President Trump’s attempt to bypass Congress on stimulus is offering only limited economic relief

Business Insider: Trump says the economy is quickly recovering from the pandemic. But 4 jarring statistics blow a hole in his argument.

New York Times: Unemployment Claims Rise as Rollout of $300 Benefit Lags

Associated Press: Rise in jobless claims reflects still-struggling US economy

CNBC: The rise in jobless claims may be a warning to Congress that the economy needs stimulus

CBS: Economy is slumping again as Washington puts stimulus on hold

Financial Times: Trump’s executive orders provide little money for jobless

Forbes: $300 Weekly Unemployment Payments Are ‘Too Little Too Late’ To Prop Up August Spending, Goldman Sachs Says

USA Today: 'We shouldn’t have to beg': Americans struggle without unemployment aid as Congress stalls on extending benefits

Politico: ‘Not just a low-wage recession’: White-collar workers feel coronavirus squeeze

Atlantic: The Pandemic Recession Is Approaching a Dire Turning Point

Rep. Beyer serves as the Vice Chair and top Democrat on Congress’ Joint Economic Committee, and is the author of the Worker Relief and Security Act, which would tie enhanced federal unemployment benefits to public health crisis declarations and economic conditions.

Washington, DC—Today, on the 85th anniversary of the Social Security Act, Congressman Don Beyer (D-VA), the Vice Chair of the U.S. Congress Joint Economic Committee (JEC), released two reports on the weakening of the American retirement system.

The first report, titled “Retirement Insecurity,” explores why retirement isn’t a reality for all Americans. (This report was released for the first time last year and is being re-released with a new preface and updated data where available.) The second report, titled “The Impact of the Coronavirus Recession on Older Workers,” explores the challenges older workers face—those aged 55-64 who are approaching retirement age, and those 65+—as a result of the economic recession and the coronavirus crisis that caused it.

Social Security is the foundation of the American retirement system. Nearly half of all Social Security beneficiaries over 65 get a majority of their retirement income from Social Security, and one fifth get over 90 percent of their income from it. These retirees rely heavily on Social Security—our nation’s retirement program—because employer-based retirement plans and personal savings have proven to be inadequate for them.

Other findings in the reports include:

  1. The American retirement system was traditionally thought of as a “three-legged stool”—private savings, employer-based pensions or retirement plans, and Social Security benefits. Now, only one leg of this stool—Social Security—provides guaranteed benefits. The other two have been worn down and weakened, largely because employers have shifted the burden of providing retirement security back onto workers themselves.
  2. The coronavirus crisis has made a bad situation worse—particularly for older workers. For these workers, staying in the workforce is dangerous because the coronavirus targets their age group and leaving the workforce is dangerous as well because the economic recession makes planning for retirement even more difficult.
  3. Women and people of color have a particularly tough time when it comes to retirement as a result of wage discrimination and other economic inequalities.

From Congressman Don Beyer, Vice Chair of the JEC:

“There are workers who say, ‘I’m going to retire next year,’ and then the next year comes and they say the same thing. In a lot of cases their health or the health of a loved one is failing, and they are putting off retirement because working one more year will increase their monthly Social Security benefits by fifty bucks—fifty bucks!

“That is not what an American retirement system that works for everyone looks like. We need to make sure all American workers—no matter their race, gender, occupation, salary and employer—can retire with dignity when it is time. That means strengthening Social Security, which is why I am proud to support legislation my colleague Congressman Larson has introduced that will do just that. That also means creating a public 401K option so all Americans who want a retirement plan can have one and the savings they accumulate follow them from employer to employer.”

From Congressman John B. Larson (D-CT), Way and Means Social Security Subcommittee Chairman and Co-Chair of the Expand Social Security Caucus:

“Social Security is the foundation of our nation’s retirement system. The COVID-19 pandemic has made it clear now more than ever that we need to act to expand and strengthen the program so that its benefits keep up with costs that seniors incur in retirement. Throughout its 85-year history, Social Security has never missed a payment. These are Americans’ earned benefits that seniors depend on for financial security. Women and people of color rely on these benefits even more, and Social Security helps to partially mitigate in retirement the inequalities they’ve experienced in the labor market. I’m proud to work with Vice Chair Beyer to strengthen our nation’s number one anti-poverty program, Social Security, and ensure that future generations of retirees can continue to count on its guaranteed benefits.”

From Teresa Ghilarducci, Irene and Bernard L. Schwartz Professor of Economics and Policy Analysis at The New School, and Director of The New School's Schwartz Center for Economic Policy Analysis and its Retirement Equity Lab:

“Around the country, older workers are facing dire choices. 'Greatly increase your chance of contracting a deadly virus by returning to work or spend the rest of your life in poverty.' 'Work forever or retire and run out of food and water.'

“This is not what aging with dignity looks like. Hard working Americans deserve, and are in fact owed, a secure retirement. Sadly our Retirement System is broken and works only for the few. On the 85th Anniversary of Social Security, it is time we commit to upholding the program's intended aim—to ensure a dignified retirement to workers of all races, genders, and income levels. To do this we must expand Social Security and provide all workers with a universal, non-predatory, guaranteed savings account.”

Only 40 percent of Americans have any savings at all in retirement accounts, and among these the typical account balance is $40,000—far short of the recommended savings target of six times current income at age 50. Women, Black and Hispanic Americans are worse off because of the economic inequalities that they experience throughout their careers. In addition, 50 percent of American workers are at risk of being unable to maintain their standard of living in retirement. Even those who take extraordinary steps—like working until 65 (five years past the current average retirement age), annuitizing all financial assets or reverse-mortgaging their homes—may not be able to maintain their current standard of living.

About Congressman Beyer

Congressman Don 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 as the Lieutenant Governor of Virginia and Ambassador to Switzerland, and built a successful family business over the course of four decades.

About the U.S. Congress Joint Economic Committee

The U.S. Congress Joint Economic Committee is Congress’s bicameral economic think tank. It was created when Congress passed the Employment Act of 1946. Under this Act, Congress established two advisory panels: the President's Council of Economic Advisers (CEA) and the JEC. Their primary tasks are to review economic conditions and to recommend improvements in economic policy. Chairmanship of the JEC alternates between the Senate and House every Congress. Currently, Senator Mike Lee (R-UT) is the Chair and Congressman Don Beyer (D-VA) is Vice Chair.

Washington, D.C.—Today, Congressman Don Beyer (D-VA), the Vice Chair of the U.S. Congress Joint Economic Committee (JEC), released the following statement on Black Women’s Equal Pay Day, August 13th, which symbolizes the large gap between the median wages for Black women and non-Hispanic white men.

The median hourly wage for non-Hispanic white men in 2019 was $23.93, while the median hourly wage for Black women was $15.79. As a result, a hypothetical Black woman would have to work all of 2019 and until August 13, 2020, to earn what her non-Hispanic white counterpart would earn in 2019 alone.

In other words, the median Black woman earns 66 cents for every dollar made by a non-Hispanic, white man. For every dollar earned by a non-Hispanic white man, white women make 80 cents, Latinx women make 62 cents, Asian American women make 92 cents.

“On Tuesday, my congressional colleague Senator Kamala Harris became the first Black woman vice presidential nominee for a major party ticket. While we should all celebrate this history-making moment, we cannot ignore the immense inequities that Black women still face.

“The gender wage gap not only hurts Black women, it also hurts their families since many, like a lot of women, are sole or co-breadwinners.

“This is particularly problematic during the current economic recession since Black women are more likely to be on the frontlines doing work in health care and other essential industries that increase their risk of contracting the coronavirus. Not only should they be paid the same as their white male counterparts for this work, they should also receive additional pay for risking their lives, not treated as if they are disposable. 

“Despite being on the frontlines, Black women are also more likely to lose their jobs during the current economic recession. Currently, the unemployment rate for Black women is 13.5 percent—3.3 percentage points higher than the unemployment rate nationally and 3.9 percentage points higher than the unemployment rate for white women.

“Women and men in the same job deserve the same pay. Anything less than that is unjust and un-American. That is why I am a proud co-sponsor of the Paycheck Fairness Act.”

Congressman Beyer is a co-sponsor of the Paycheck Fairness Act, which would help eliminate the gender pay gap by holding employers accountable for discrimination, ending the practice of pay secrecy, easing workers’ ability to challenge pay discrimination, strengthening the available remedies for wronged employees, and prohibiting employers from asking about prospective employees’ salary history.

About Congressman Beyer

Congressman Don 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 as the Lieutenant Governor of Virginia and Ambassador to Switzerland, and built a successful family business over the course of four decades.

About the U.S. Congress Joint Economic Committee

The U.S. Congress Joint Economic Committee is Congress’s bicameral economic think tank. It was created when Congress passed the Employment Act of 1946. Under this Act, Congress established two advisory panels: the President's Council of Economic Advisers (CEA) and the JEC. Their primary tasks are to review economic conditions and to recommend improvements in economic policy. Chairmanship of the JEC alternates between the Senate and House every Congress. Currently, Senator Mike Lee (R-UT) is the Chair and Congressman Don Beyer (D-VA) is Vice Chair.

Rep. Don Beyer, the top-ranking Member of the House on Congress’ Joint Economic Committee, today issued the following statement on President Trump’s Executive Orders on the economy announced over the weekend:

“Beyond the constitutional and legal issues which the President’s Executive Orders raise, they are wholly inadequate to avert the economic disaster facing millions of American families. They are worse than nothing, since Administration figures like Mark Meadows may use them as a fig leaf to avoid striking a deal with Congress to provide actual public health and economic support to communities.

“Over the past six months I have spoken with many of the top economists and economic policymakers in the country about how to address this crisis, and the resounding message is that substantial government spending is needed to prevent a lengthy depression. They point again and again to the need for strong and sustained unemployment supports, and the need to help state and local governments replace lost revenue to prevent mass public sector layoffs and the slashing of critical services.

“President Trump’s smoke and mirrors will not repair the economic damage the country has sustained. Anything less than a broad economic aid package will fail to put us on the road to a recovery.”

Rep. Beyer serves as the Vice Chair and top Democrat on the Joint Economic Committee, and is the author of the Worker Relief and Security Act, which would tie enhanced federal unemployment benefits to public health crisis declarations and economic conditions.

Washington, D.C.—Today, Congressman Don Beyer (D-VA), Vice Chair of the U.S. Congress Joint Economic Committee (JEC), released the following statement after the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that nonfarm payroll employment increased by 1.8 million in July and the unemployment rate fell to 10.2%. The unemployment rate was 14.6% for Black workers and 12.9% for Hispanic workers.

The 1.8 million new nonfarm jobs in July follow a loss of 1.4 million jobs in March, a loss of 20.8 million jobs in April, a gain of 2.7 million jobs in May, and a gain of 4.8 million jobs in June—a net loss of nearly 13 million jobs.

“This is no reason for a victory lap around the Rose Garden.

“The gain in jobs is modest in context of the massive net loss we have suffered since February—13 million jobs gone. The unemployment rate is still higher than the very worst of the Great Recession. Almost 15 percent of Black workers cannot find a job.

“If the President had gotten the coronavirus under control, we would have seen a much faster drop in the unemployment rate. But he ignored it instead of fighting it and as a result, more people are getting sick and dying. And with the number of new cases exploding, economic progress is slowing—with signs that things could get worse.

“Meanwhile, Senate Republicans are inflicting unnecessary hardship and anxiety on 30 million Americans by letting enhanced unemployment benefits lapse. They should put people before politics and provide the help that Americans desperately need."

About Congressman Beyer

Congressman Don 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 as the Lieutenant Governor of Virginia and Ambassador to Switzerland, and built a successful family business over the course of four decades.

About the U.S. Congress Joint Economic Committee

The U.S. Congress Joint Economic Committee is Congress’s bicameral economic think tank. It was created when Congress passed the Employment Act of 1946. Under this Act, Congress established two advisory panels: the President's Council of Economic Advisers (CEA) and the JEC. Their primary tasks are to review economic conditions and to recommend improvements in economic policy. Chairmanship of the JEC alternates between the Senate and House every Congress. Currently, Senator Mike Lee (R-UT) is the Chair and Congressman Don Beyer (D-VA) is Vice Chair.

Washington, D.C.—Today, Congressman Don Beyer (D-VA), Vice Chair of the U.S. Congress Joint Economic Committee (JEC), released the following statement after the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) reported that 984,192 workers filed regular first-time unemployment claims (not seasonally adjusted) for the week ending August 1. This is the first time in 20 weeks that new regular unemployment claims have dropped below one million.

The DOL found that an additional 655,707 workers filed for benefits under the new Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program for gig workers and others. In total, more than 1.6 million people filed new unemployment claims last week.

“Senate Republicans sat on their hands for almost three months after House Democrats passed the Heroes Act in May. They knew 30 million unemployed Americans would lose $600 a week, among other benefits, on July 31—yet they did nothing. Six days later—still nothing. The timing could not be worse for these Americans and their families.

“Rent and mortgage payments were due on August 1. Grocery prices are rising at the fastest rate in decades. Food stamp applications are surging in almost every state. Yet, Republicans do nothing and complain that we are ‘paying people not to work.’ That is a fundamental misunderstanding of unemployment benefits—people receive benefits because they cannot find work, not because they ‘do not feel like working.’

“Senate Republicans are playing games with people’s lives and livelihoods. That is exactly why we need to use a data-based approach that takes the politics out of this process and puts enhanced unemployment benefits and other relief programs on autopilot.”

About Congressman Beyer

Congressman Don 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 as the Lieutenant Governor of Virginia and Ambassador to Switzerland, and built a successful family business over the course of four decades.

About the U.S. Congress Joint Economic Committee

The U.S. Congress Joint Economic Committee is Congress’s bicameral economic think tank. It was created when Congress passed the Employment Act of 1946. Under this Act, Congress established two advisory panels: the President's Council of Economic Advisers (CEA) and the JEC. Their primary tasks are to review economic conditions and to recommend improvements in economic policy. Chairmanship of the JEC alternates between the Senate and House every Congress. Currently, Senator Mike Lee (R-UT) is the Chair and Congressman Don Beyer (D-VA) is Vice Chair.

Washington, D.C.—Today, Congressman Don Beyer (D-VA), the Vice Chair of the U.S. Congress Joint Economic Committee (JEC), released the following statement after the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) reported this morning its initial estimate of second quarter gross domestic product (GDP), showing that real GDP shrank at an annual rate of 32.9%—the worst quarterly decline in history.

The Department of Labor (DOL) also reported this morning that 2 million workers filed new unemployment claims (not seasonally adjusted) for the week ending July 25, which includes 830,000 that filed claims under the new Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program for gig workers and others.

In addition, DOL reported that 30.2 million Americans received unemployment compensation during the week ending July 11, which includes the $600 Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC) that is scheduled to expire tomorrow. 

From Congressman Beyer: 

“On the day government agencies report that there are 30 million Americans on unemployment and that we experienced the worst quarterly decline in GDP in history, Republicans are proposing cuts to support for families, businesses and state and local governments that would hurt our economy—not help it.

“One of the most egregious examples is their proposal to cut enhanced unemployment benefits by $400, which the Economic Policy Institute estimates would not only harm millions of workers, but result in 2.5% less in GDP and 3.4 million fewer jobs created over the next year.

“I am not sure what more Republicans need to see. More than one million Americans have filed new unemployment insurance claims for 19 straight weeks. The unemployment rate remains the highest it has been in 80 years and will likely remain above 10 percent in the fourth quarter of this year.

“We are down 15 million jobs from February, including 3 million jobs that have been permanently lost. Partly as a result, one fifth of American households could not make any portion of their rent or mortgage payment on time in July.

“While millions struggle to pay their bills, McConnell and company cut their checks and give us more of the same—foolish fantasies that markets can fix what only government can and the coronavirus will contain itself. Our country has a steep hill to climb during the third and fourth quarters of this year and Republicans are making it even steeper.”

About Congressman Beyer

Congressman Don 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 as the Lieutenant Governor of Virginia and Ambassador to Switzerland, and built a successful family business over the course of four decades.

About the U.S. Congress Joint Economic Committee

The U.S. Congress Joint Economic Committee is Congress’s bicameral economic think tank. It was created when Congress passed the Employment Act of 1946. Under this Act, Congress established two advisory panels: the President's Council of Economic Advisers (CEA) and the JEC. Their primary tasks are to review economic conditions and recommend improvements in economic policy.

Chairmanship of the JEC alternates between the Senate and House every Congress. Currently, Senator Mike Lee (R-UT) is the chair and Congressman Don Beyer (D-VA) is the vice chair.

Washington, D.C.—Today, at a U.S. Congress Joint Economic Committee (JEC) hearing on boosting economic confidence and reducing uncertainty during the coronavirus, Vice Chair Don Beyer (D-VA) called on Congress to automate enhanced unemployment benefits, SNAP, Medicaid and other supports families need during the current economic crisis and future ones by tying them to the unemployment rate. This would ensure that such supports continue as long as they are needed without the need for a vote by Congress.

Yesterday, Vice Chair Beyer introduced with Congressman Derek Kilmer (D-WA) the Worker Relief and Security Act, legislation that would provide enhanced unemployment benefits to those who are out of work until the unemployment rate in their states returns to pre-crisis levels. The legislation is based on a legislative framework released in May that was developed with Kilmer, Senator Jack Reed (D-RI) and Senator Michael Bennet (D-CO), and has received the support of leading economists—including former Federal Reserve Chairs Janet Yellen and Ben Bernanke, as well the Democratic witnesses for today’s hearing, Heather Boushey and Jared Bernstein.

As Vice Chair Beyer, Boushey and Bernstein explained during the hearing, automating support in this way boosts economic confidence and reduces economic uncertainty for families, businesses and state and local governments, helping to promote economic recovery.

Vice Chair Beyer said:

“In an economic crisis like the one we are in now, Congress’s role is to assure families, businesses and state and local governments that they will get the support they need as long for as they need it. Currently, however, because of the petty, partisan, political posturing of Senate Republicans, tens of millions of unemployed Americans are waiting for a vote that will determine whether they can pay rent or put food on the table.

“Congress should take politics out of this and use a data-based approach instead—one that ties enhanced unemployment benefits and other similar support to economic conditions, so they ramp up when families need them and ramp down when they do not.

“Sadly, there are Members of Congress who derive their political power, even build their entire careers around forcing dramatic, dangerous showdowns on Capitol Hill. In the past, they threatened to shut down the federal government; today, they threaten to allow enhanced unemployment benefits to expire. They rob millions of Americans of help they desperately need while unemployment is sky high. When politicians play these games, real people get hurt."

Dr. Boushey said:

“Enhanced unemployment benefits should end when objective conditions show they are no longer needed. An unemployment-rate-based ‘trigger’ that only turns off when a stable recovery is underway would allow this program to wind down automatically.” (Read her full testimony here.)

Jared Bernstein said:

“By forcefully taking charge of the public health aspects of the crisis and by ensuring that fiscal relief will be there as long and as deeply as people need it, Congress can help reduce the American people’s uncertainty and economic insecurity. I strongly urge you to do so and will be happy to help in any way I can.” (Read his full testimony here.)

The hearing took place against a backdrop of negotiations between the House, Senate and White House over the next coronavirus relief package. Key differences between the House on the one side, which passed the HEROES Act on May 15, and the Senate and White House on the other, which didn't release a legislative package until late in the day on Monday, include extending enhanced unemployment benefits that expire at the end of July as well as aid for state and local governments.

Congressional Republicans are currently proposing to extend enhanced unemployment benefits but cut them from $600 to $200 until states can improve their unemployment insurance systems. The Economic Policy Institute estimates that the $400 cut in benefits would reduce GDP by 2.5 percent and cost the economy 3.4 million jobs over the next year.

Vice Chair Beyer said: 

“During a global pandemic, the federal government should provide more certainty for families, businesses and state and local governments—not less. Now, because Senate Republicans let enhanced unemployment benefits lapse in the first place, they have created a financial headache for families who count on these benefits and businesses who count on the consumer spending they enable. We can and must do better for the millions of families who are counting on this support.”

Read Vice Chair Beyer’s written opening statement here.

About Congressman Beyer

Congressman Don 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 as the Lieutenant Governor of Virginia and Ambassador to Switzerland, and built a successful family business over the course of four decades.

About the U.S. Congress Joint Economic Committee

 The U.S. Congress Joint Economic Committee is Congress’s bicameral economic think tank. It was created when Congress passed the Employment Act of 1946. Under this Act, Congress established two advisory panels: the President's Council of Economic Advisers (CEA) and the JEC. Their primary tasks are to review economic conditions and to recommend improvements in economic policy.

Chairmanship of the JEC alternates between the Senate and House every Congress. Currently, Senator Mike Lee (R-UT) is the Chair and Congressman Don Beyer (D-VA) is the Vice Chair.

Jul 27 2020

Beyer, Kilmer Introduce Unemployment Legislation Amid Lapse In Benefits

Automatic stabilizers legislation follows bicameral framework endorsed by Fed Chairs and leading economists

July 27, 2020 (Washington, D.C.) – U.S. Representatives Don Beyer (D-VA), Vice Chair and House leader of Congress’ Joint Economic Committee, and Derek Kilmer (D-WA), Chair of the New Democrat Coalition, today introduced the Worker Relief and Security Act. The legislation would automatically continue and provide for additional enhanced emergency unemployment benefits for the duration of the public health emergency and ensuing economic crisis until conditions return closer to pre-crisis levels.

Beyer and Kilmer introduced the bill amid a lapse in enhanced federal unemployment benefits resulting from Senate Republicans’ failure to pass an extension.

“The Worker Relief and Security Act would ensure that we never have another unemployment lapse for the duration of the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Beyer. “This is a deadly serious moment as 30 million unemployed workers face a drastic cut in income caused by Senate Republicans. Congress is making the greatest economic crisis this country has faced since the Great Depression worse. The gap in unemployment benefits will inflict anguish on millions of American families, many of whom will have extreme difficulty paying for food and housing, and do serious damage to the economy. This must never happen again.”

Beyer and Kilmer’s Worker Relief and Security Act builds off a previously released framework developed with Senators Jack Reed (D-RI) and Michael Bennet (D-CO).

“The staggering impact of the coronavirus on our communities increases by the day, and yet the federal government is still struggling to keep up with the needs of communities in our regions and across the country,” said New Democrat Coalition Chair Derek Kilmer. “Instead of getting out ahead of the problem, we just see a repetition of the scene from Jaws in which Brody says, ‘We’re gonna need a bigger boat.’  With this bill, Congress can provide a bigger boat – and one that meets the size of the problem as conditions persist or worsen.  Our communities cannot afford to face a cliff every few months. We need automatic stabilizers in coronavirus response and recovery efforts that ensure the duration of assistance meets the duration of the crisis and recovery. This bill will help ensure states, workers, businesses, and families have a little certainty in uncertain times.”

Beyer consulted top economists and policymakers in developing the Worker Relief and Security Act, many of whom endorsed the bill. A list of endorsements and supporting comments is available here, including quotes from former Secretary of the Treasury Jack Lew, former Federal Reserve Chairs Janet Yellen and Ben Bernanke, former Chair of President Obama's Council of Economic Advisers Jason Furman, former National Economic Advisor to President Obama and President Clinton Gene Sperling, Director of Macroeconomic Policy for the Washington Center for Equitable Growth Claudia Sahm, Former U.S. Department of Labor Chief Economist (2014-2017) and current Economic Policy Institute Senior Economist and Director of Policy Heidi Shierholz, Chief Economist at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities and Former Chief Economist at the President’s Council of Economic Advisers Chad Stone, and more.

The Worker Relief and Security Act would extend the $600 weekly federal unemployment compensation benefits through the duration of the COVID-19 public health crisis, provide for unlimited unemployment coverage weeks through January 2021, and then continue providing enhanced compensation and additional coverage weeks determined by national and state total unemployment rates.

Text of the Worker Relief and Security Act is available here with a two-page explainer here.