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Joint Economic Committee Democrats Chairman - Senator Martin Heinrich (D-NM)

Press Releases

Jul 22 2020

JEC Releases New Report on Cost of Gaps in Paid Sick Leave During the Coronavirus Crisis

Released with the report are more than 50 stories collected by AFSCME, MomsRising, SEIU, United Farm Workers and UFW Foundation that show the impact that these gaps are having on workers and their families.

Washington, D.C.—In April, when many Americans were working from home to stay safe from the coronavirus, a farmworker in California—an occupation deemed “essential” by the federal government—was worried about getting sick in the fields.

“I am afraid of potentially getting sick, then not being able to work, and then not being able to pay for my rent, food and medical bills,” the farmworker said. “We do not have any benefits on the job.”

The farmworker’s story is one of more than 50 collected by the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), MomsRising, the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), United Farm Workers (UFW) and UFW Foundation that helped inform a new report released today by the U.S. Congress Joint Economic Committee (JEC).

The report draws together evidence and expert opinion on the health and economic costs of gaps in paid sick leave during the current coronavirus crisis. Among other findings, it concludes that:

  •  The United States is the only high-income country without universal paid sick leave. As a result, before the pandemic, approximately one-quarter of American workers did not have paid sick leave at all.
  • While almost all employees of large U.S. corporations have paid sick leave, less than two-thirds at companies with fewer than 50 employees have access to it. 
  • More than 90 percent of the highest-wage earners have paid sick leave, while only 30 percent of the lowest-wage earners do.
  • Only 58 percent of service sector workers and only 45 percent of workers in the hotel and foodservice industries have access to paid sick leave.
  • Workers who do not have access to paid sick leave are three times more likely to go to work sick, delay seeking medical attention or forgo medical care altogether. 

From Congressman Don Beyer (D-VA), vice chair of the JEC:

“Even before the pandemic, 36 million American workers did not have paid sick leave and were forced to choose between a paycheck and protecting their health. This perverse incentive puts many others at risk. One of the many things that this pandemic has made clear is that paid sick leave should be a right for all workers not a benefit left to the discretion of employers. We all have an overwhelming interest in making paid sick leave universal, so Americans do not have to risk exposing their co-workers and consumers to the coronavirus and other illnesses out of fear of getting fired or forgoing pay. It would be a shame if the paid sick leave provisions included in the House-passed HEROES Act do not make it into the final version of the next relief package because, as the report and stories confirm, they are sorely needed.”

From Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro (D-CT):

“This report illustrates what we are witnessing in real time: gaps in our nation’s paid sick leave are not only making it more difficult to contain the coronavirus, but also, they are weakening the economic recovery. Families are forced to choose between their health, and that of their families, coworkers, and communities, and their income and job security. There has never been a more urgent need to expand paid sick days and paid leave to the workers of this country. Any final coronavirus relief package passed by Congress must close these gaps. I will continue fighting for a permanent solution to this problem that existed long before this pandemic.”

From AFSCME President Lee Saunders:

“This public health crisis makes plainer than ever that universal paid sick leave is a moral and economic imperative. It's shocking and unforgivable that it isn't already guaranteed for all working people in the United States, as it is in every other developed nation. It's time for us to finally align public policy with the realities facing working families in the 21st century. The next coronavirus relief bill must include, in addition to at least $1 trillion in state and local aid, paid leave for all—with no carve-outs, opt-outs, or workarounds for employers."

From Kristin Rowe-Finkbeiner, executive director and CEO of MomsRising, the online and on-the-ground organization of more than one million mothers and their families:

“Outdated policies and pervasive discrimination have long penalized women and moms in the workforce, with Black and Latinx women and moms suffering the most due to appalling structural racism that has gone unchecked. The fact that millions of workers cannot earn paid sick days and access paid family and medical leave has long harmed families, businesses and our economy, and is a significant part of the reason we were so ill-prepared for COVID-19. We applaud the Joint Economic Committee for releasing this report today. In the next coronavirus relief bill, moms want Congress to ensure all workers can earn paid sick days and access paid leave, along with quality, affordable child care, and adequate unemployment benefits. We need these policies during the health and economic crises that COVID-19 is causing and we will need them after these crises end.”

From Joyce Barnes, a home care worker for three decades and a member of SEIU Virginia 512 who lives in Sandston, Va.:

“Home care workers, most of us Black and brown women, have long been forgotten, and not just during this pandemic. Poverty wages and lack of basic benefits have made it hard to get by, let alone prepare us if we get sick. Not having sick days means we must go to work no matter how sick we get. It’s an awful choice: go to work when we're sick or get evicted because we can’t make rent.”

From UFW President Teresa Romero: 

“The nation’s food security depends on farmworkers. To mitigate the spread of COVID-19 in agricultural communities and further the health, safety and economic security of the people that feed us, the essential women and men who are required to work in agriculture need and deserve sick pay."

From UFW Foundation Executive Director Diana Tellefson Torres:

“Farm workers are highly skilled workers keeping America fed. More than 2.5 million of farm workers—half undocumented—are deemed essential during the pandemic, but most do not have essential compensation and protections, including paid sick leave, hazard pay and personal protective equipment. Most farm workers and their families are excluded from federal relief efforts due to the lack of legal status either of the farm worker or their spouse. In order to address these systemic inequities, the UFW Foundation has distributed more than 170,000 meals and more than 14,000 emergency food boxes to rural California families, and is distributing 900,000 masks and $11.6 million in cash assistance to farm workers in California, Washington and Oregon. Additionally, as one of 12 community-based nonprofit organizations selected by California to administer its Disaster Relief Assistance for Immigrants financial assistance program, the UFW Foundation assisted 10,867 immigrants. America cannot deem farm workers essential without providing the pay, benefits and safeguards they deserve to sustain their families and protect themselves, their loved ones, colleagues and communities from the spread of COVID-19. The HEROES Act in the House and Sen. Stabenow's Food Supply Protection Act combined with Sen. Merkley's FARM Laborers Protection Act, would go a long way in addressing the fundamental and life-saving needs of the people that feed us.”

Legislative background

HEROES Act

On May 15, 2020, the House of Representatives passed the HEROES Act, which, if passed by the Senate and signed into law, would extend emergency paid sick leave to millions of additional workers by closing carve-outs that hurt new employees, some federal employees singled out by the Office of Management and Budget, health care workers and emergency responders (who were not included in original emergency provisions) and employees at large and small companies (of greater than 500 employees and less than 50 employees). The legislation would also create a fund to support premium pay for essential workers. Finally the legislation would address widely publicized concerns about Department of Labor employer rules regarding who is and is not eligible for emergency paid sick leave and extend eligibility for non-emergency FMLA.

Congressman Beyer

Congressman Beyer has been a longtime supporter of stronger paid sick leave and paid family and medical leave policies. He is a co-sponsor of the PAID Leave Act which would permanently ensure that workers can accrue 7 paid sick days, as well as provide 14 additional days when there is a public health emergency and 12 weeks of emergency paid family and medical leave—both of which would be fully reimbursed by the federal government. He also was a lead sponsor of the Federal Employee Paid Leave Act, which was signed into law as part of the National Defense Authorization Act at the end of 2019, guaranteeing federal employees up to 12 weeks of paid leave after the birth or adoption of a child.

Congresswoman DeLauro

Congresswoman DeLauro has long pressed for paid sick days and paid family and medical leave, first introducing the Healthy Families Act in 2004 and reintroducing every Congress since and introducing the FAMILY Act in 2013 and in every Congress since. Throughout the coronavirus crisis, DeLauro has pushed for paid leave policies and helped to ensure that the Families First Coronavirus Response Act included crucial first steps in establishing a national paid leave policy. She has also introduced the PAID Leave Act, a comprehensive emergency paid sick days and paid family and medical leave bill that is fully funded by the federal government during this emergency, and continues to push for it to be a part of Congress’ continuing coronavirus response efforts.

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.

Jul 22 2020

News Roundup: Economic Disaster Looms

Headlines and stories across the country show growing fear as White House, Senate Republicans dither in the face of expiring unemployment benefits.

Washington, D.C.—After two months of denying the urgent need for economic relief across the country and ignoring the HEROES Act, Senate Republicans and the White House are slowly writing a doomed bill filled with bad policies that will not help. As Republican Senators steadfastly refuse to extend enhanced unemployment benefits which will expire days from now, here’s what the American people are reading:

STATES

Arizona – Arizona Public Media: Loss of federal unemployment dollars will hurt Arizona economy

Colorado – Denver Post: $600 federal unemployment benefit set to expire next week (“Colorado’s unemployment ticks up in June while national rate declines”)

Georgia – Atlanta Journal Constitution: Unemployment remains high as coronavirus slows recovery

Hawaii – KHON: Hawaii’s massive unemployed population dependent on soon-expiring federal assistance

Iowa – Des Moines Register: Iowa's economic recovery staggers, unemployment claims increase for second week

Kansas – KMUW WichitaJobless Kansans Foresee Harder Times Ahead As Federal Aid Nears An End

Kentucky – WAVE: Kentucky, Indiana rank among highest in COVID-19 personal bankruptcy

Louisiana – WVUE: $600 supplement to end in two weeks, unemployed anxious

Maine – Bangor Daily News: Maine sees spike in new jobless claims after weeks-long decline

Massachusetts:  ‘We're Going To Have To Pray': The Extra $600 Unemployment Benefit Is About To Run Out – WBUR Boston

Michigan – Detroit Free Press: Michigan unemployment claims continue to mount as state's reopening pauses

Minnesota – Fox9: DEED warns Minnesotans on unemployment that $600 federal payment ends in July

Missouri – KHSB: $600 unemployment benefit set to expire this month

Nebraska – KPTM: Unemployment concerns spotlighted as jobless law is about to expire

New Mexico – Albuquerque Journal: $600 federal unemployment benefit over at end of month

North Carolina – Charlotte Observer: A crisis looms for NC and the nation as federal relief and eviction bans come to an end

Ohio – Columbus Dispatch: Stuck: New claims for unemployment remain at high levels in Ohio, US

Oregon – The OregonianUnemployed Oregonians worry about survival with $600 federal unemployment benefit set to expire

Pennsylvania – ABC27: Federal stimulus program to end July 25, state offers emergency programs

Rhode Island – Providence Journal: This is last week for $600 unemployment bump: What’s next for R.I.’s jobless?

South Dakota – Argus Leader: South Dakota women majority of unemployed amid COVID-19 pandemic

Tennessee – Nashville Tennessean: For Tennesseans, extra $600 CARES Act unemployment benefit payments end July 25

Texas – Houston Chronicle: Texas has the highest uninsured rate in the U.S. And during the pandemic, an estimated 659,000 Texans lost their health care.

Utah – Salt Lake Tribune / AP: Rising coronavirus infections threaten U.S. economic recovery. Utah’s unemployment claims remain high

Wisconsin – Wisconsin Examiner: The rent is coming due. Will Congress offer more relief as it gets back to work?

NATIONAL

Associated Press: Stress rises for unemployed as extra $600 benefit nears end

NPR: The End Of $600 Unemployment Benefits Will Hit Millions Of Households And The Economy

NBC: Millions of Americans face unemployment cash cliff with no sign of congressional deal

Wall Street Journal: Eviction Looms for Millions of Americans Who Can’t Afford Rent

Vox: If Congress doesn’t act, massive unemployment and a ruined economy may come soon

Washington, D.C.—Today, Congressman Don Beyer (D-VA), Vice Chair of the U.S. Congress Joint Economic Committee (JEC), released the following statement ahead of the Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee’s expected vote on Judy Shelton’s nomination to the Federal Reserve Board.

“Judy Shelton’s extreme ideas, such as advocating a return to the gold standard, are far outside the mainstream and make her unfit to serve on the Federal Reserve Board of Governors. Pegging the dollar to the price of gold was abandoned by the United States in 1971 and a return to it would have severely constrained the Fed’s aggressive response to the recession resulting from COVID-19.

“Moreover, Dr. Shelton’s past statements and writings show that she does not value the Fed or its independence. In one op-ed, Shelton asked: ‘Why do we need a central bank?’ In another, she called for a ‘more coordinated relationship’ between the Fed and the White House, something that would make it far more difficult for the Fed to pursue its policy mandates based on data and analysis and remain free from political interference. The President already badgers the Fed to cut rates to goose the economy as if it were a political arm of the White House—we do not need to put someone on the Board who thinks such ‘coordination’ is okay.

“In addition, Dr. Shelton has flipped on policy issues depending on which party controls the White House. She was a regular critic of loose monetary policy until President Trump took office. Yet during the Trump administration, she has advocated for lowering rates ‘as fast’ as possible—one reason Washington Post columnist Catherine Rampell called Shelton ‘an opportunist and a quack.’

“The current economic crisis once again has underscored the critical role of the Federal Reserve and the need for strong, independent leadership at the central bank. Judy Shelton miserably flunks that test.”

Rep. Don Beyer, the Vice Chair and top Democrat on Congress’ Joint Economic Committee, today issued the following statement on Senate Majority Leader’s announcement that the Senate would take “weeks” to pass legislation that includes an extension of expanded federal unemployment benefits:

“Mitch McConnell may already have doomed the tens of millions of American workers who depend on enhanced federal unemployment benefits to a sudden, sharp decline in income at the end of July.

“Because state unemployment benefits need to be extended by July 25 in order to be processed by states administering their programs, McConnell’s announcement that the Senate will not even begin drafting or negotiating legislation until next week effectively makes a lapse in those expanded payments unavoidable. We may already be out of time to avoid the iceberg.

“The nearly 400,000 Virginians who currently receive up to $978 per week will see that figure cut to a maximum of $378 just as their rent or mortgage payments fall due. McConnell and the Trump Administration could make things even worse by demanding reductions or policy changes that require states to further delay payments to implement changes. Thousands of workers are still waiting to have their initial applications processed by state unemployment systems, and could now have to wait even longer.

“This could have been avoided if McConnell had acknowledged the economic emergency facing our country – and the millions of American families who desperately need help from Congress – and acted on it sooner.”

The CARES Act, which Congress enacted in March, added $600 per week to monthly unemployment insurance payments with an expiration “on or before” July 31, 2020. Most states process unemployment payments on a weekly cycle ending on Saturday or Sunday; because July ends on a Friday, states need an extension by July 24 in order to cover the final week of the month, which runs into August.

Further delays are possible if Republican demands continue to include significant policy changes to federal employment benefits. State programs took weeks and in some cases months to recalibrate their existing unemployment systems to deliver the expanded benefits enacted by the CARES Act, and tens of thousands of workers in states like Kentucky are still waiting to have their initial applications processed.

Nearly 36 million American workers are either receiving unemployment benefits or waiting to have their applications reviewed according to analysis of Labor Department statistics by the Economic Policy Institute.

The lapse in benefits would likely be reflected in payments that reach unemployed workers on or just before housing payments are due at the beginning of August. Previously reported analysis found that nearly a third of American households made partial or late housing payments or no payment at all in the month of July.

The effects of a lapse in enhanced federal unemployment benefits will not be limited to families who depend on the benefits directly. Analysis by the Brookings Institute found that expanded federal unemployment benefits from the CARES act replaced roughly half of lost wages for American workers in the month of April. Loss of that income could spur a sharp decline in aggregate demand and new rounds of layoffs and business closures.

Leading economists credited CARES Act stimulus, particularly expanded unemployment benefits, with helping to boost the economy and fuel better-than-expected jobs reports for May and June. They warn that a corresponding absence of stimulus could swiftly imperil the recovery. Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell urged Congress to spend more in future government aid packages to boost the economy, and the House responded in May with the Heroes Act.

Despite these warnings, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has refused to consider or negotiate new legislation to boost the economy during the pandemic, saying he felt no “urgency of acting.”

Rep. Don Beyer (D-VA) serves as Vice Chair of the Joint Economic Committee and is the author of the Worker Relief and Security Act, which would use automatic stabilizers to tie expanded unemployment benefits to economic conditions and public health emergency declarations.

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 4.8 million in June and the unemployment rate fell to 11.1%. The unemployment rate was 15.4% for Black workers and 14.5% for Hispanic workers.

The 4.8 million new nonfarm jobs in June follow a loss of 1.4 million jobs in March, a loss of 20.8 million jobs in April and a gain of 2.7 million jobs in May—a net loss of 14.7 million jobs.

“Some of my Republican colleagues are making the absurd argument that job gains over the past two months mean that unemployed workers no longer need supplemental benefits. We are still nearly 15 million jobs in the hole. The Trump Administration could have saved many of these jobs if it had responded to the threat of the coronavirus just a few weeks earlier.

“The unemployment rate is still higher than it has been in 80 years and there are more unemployed workers than there are job openings. There have been over one million new unemployment claims for 15 straight weeks and job losses for public sector workers at the state and local level have been catastrophic. For Americans who have held onto their jobs, many have had their pay cut or have been forced to work part time.

“If you add to all of this the spike in coronavirus cases and hospitalizations in states that re-opened too soon—and, in some cases, started to re-shutter, it is easy to see that the fresh start the Trump Administration has been trumpeting is actually a false start, especially when you consider that this spike began after the survey period for this report.

“The most important thing we can do to get the economy back on track is to contain the virus—yet the President has his head in the sand. In the meantime, we must provide relief to workers, families and state and local governments for as long as they need it.

“Senate Republicans’ refusal to lift a finger to further boost the economy is unacceptable and risks impoverishing millions of families. They should pass the HEROES Act, which extends unemployment insurance benefits through the beginning of next year." 

Jul 01 2020

Beyer Welcomes Schumer/Wyden Bill to Extend Enhanced Unemployment Benefits

Senate Proposal Would Tie Benefits to Economic Conditions in Each State

Washington, D.C.—Congressman Don Beyer (D-VA), Vice Chair of the U.S. Congress Joint Economic Committee, released the following statement about the introduction today of the American Workforce Rescue Act by Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Senate Finance Committee Ranking Member Ron Wyden (D-OR).

The legislation would extend enhanced unemployment benefits past the July 31, 2020 expiration date and would tie those benefits to economic conditions in each state. Congressman Beyer announced a similar proposal in May, which gained the support of prominent economists, including former Federal Reserve Chairs Janet Yellen and Ben Bernanke.

“The new Senate legislation would ensure that critical unemployment benefits continue for workers in each state for as long as needed,” said Congressman Beyer. “By tying benefits to the unemployment rate in each state, we can provide unemployed workers the support they desperately need for as long as they need it. The support phases down as the economy improves and then turns off when it is no longer needed. This is good policy and I urge the Senate to move quickly on it.”

“The legislation is similar to the legislative framework I developed with Rep. Kilmer and Senators Bennet and Reed and would go a long way to providing workers and families with certainty that the benefits they count on will be there as long as they need them,” Congressman Beyer said.

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, 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 Joaquin Castro (D-TX)—Chair of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus (CHC)—and Congressman Don Beyer (D-VA)—Vice Chair of the U.S. Congress Joint Economic Committee (JEC)—released a new report, “Immigrants, the Economy and the COVID-19 Outbreak,” which explores both the contributions of immigrants to the U.S. economy during the coronavirus crisis and the economic and other impacts it has had on them. The report is being released on the same day as a House Resolution sponsored by Congressman Castro that commemorates Immigrant Heritage Month.

Seventeen percent of U.S. workers are immigrants. Foreign-born workers are overrepresented in both front-line medical occupations (e.g., home health aides, nurses, physicians) and occupations that have been designated “essential” (e.g., meatpacking, crop production, construction), as well as occupations that have experienced the steepest rise in unemployment in recent months (e.g., food service, hospitality).

Consequently, immigrants both have an elevated risk of exposure to the coronavirus and are more likely to lose their job or business as a result of the related recession. At the same time, they are less likely to be eligible for coronavirus relief measures like direct cash payments, Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation and the Paycheck Protection Program.

The HEROES Act, which was passed by the House last month and awaits action by the Senate, addresses some of the needs highlighted in the report, e.g., providing coronavirus testing and treatment regardless of immigration status, hazard pay for essential workers, and protections for farmworkers and meatpacking workers. A list of other key immigration provisions included in the HEROES Act is here.

“Immigrants—the ‘essential’ workers, entrepreneurs and millions of others—help power our economy. We need to recognize the important role they play, especially during the current crisis, and provide them with the help they need," Congressman Beyer said.  “Any coronavirus relief measure that hurts immigrants’ ability to recover from the health and economic impacts of this pandemic is one that hurts our nation’s ability to recover. This is one of the many reasons why it is so important for the Senate to pass the HEROES Act, which extends health care, hazard pay and housing protections to immigrants and their families, among other key policies.”

“In every sector of our economy and every aspect of our society, immigrants enrich American life,” Congressman Castro said. “The coronavirus pandemic has exposed to everyone what Congressional Hispanic Caucus Members have been saying for years: immigrants are essential workers and critical to our nation’s infrastructure. Immigrants fulfill critical roles and we must value their contributions by reforming our broken immigration system, protecting families from deportation, and supporting all workers during this crisis.”

Congressman Castro continued, “The sacrifices of immigrants—working the front lines of COVID-19 and risking their lives for everyone’s wellbeing—must never be forgotten. This illuminating report by the Joint Economic Committee under the leadership of Vice Chair Don Beyer shows how immigrants are key drivers of economic growth by starting businesses and developing innovations, and without immigrant labor several major industries would not function. Immigrants are making the United States a healthier, safer, more prosperous nation and are vital to America’s future success.”

In the food supply chain industry, immigrants make up 20-70 percent of the labor force depending on the type of work (e.g., graders, sorters) and the location of the work (e.g., California, Texas). (Overall, they make up 22 percent of all workers in the industry.) About one-in-four new businesses in the U.S. are started by immigrants and these businesses employ 8 million workers. In addition, the spending power of immigrants is strong—$1.2 trillion annually according to the bipartisan research and advocacy organization New American Economy.

About the CHC

The 38-Member Congressional Hispanic Caucus is dedicated to voicing and advancing, through the legislative process, issues affecting Hispanics in the United States, Puerto Rico and U.S. Territories. Congressman Joaquin Castro (D-TX) is the Chair.

About the JEC

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. Senator Mike Lee (R-UT) is the Chair. 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 a report, “The Administration’s 'Return-to-Work Bonus' Is No Substitute for Enhanced Unemployment Benefits,” showing that millions of unemployed workers would be left without the economic support they need if the Trump administration succeeds in replacing the $600 weekly Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC) with a “return-to-work bonus.”

“Replacing enhanced unemployment benefits with a ‘return-to-work bonus’ is a terrible idea,” said Congressman Beyer. “There simply aren’t enough jobs—dangling an incentive won’t create or fill more of them. And cutting off supplemental unemployment benefits could force millions into poverty.”

“In many states, where COVID-19 is surging, encouraging workers to return to unsafe jobs is dangerous and short-sighted. We need to provide continued economic support so that these workers can stay home and stay healthy,” Congressman Beyer continued. “Eliminating enhanced unemployment benefits is cold-hearted and counter-productive. By cutting off workers and removing money from the economy, it would reduce demand at exactly the moment we should be taking steps to boost demand and bolster our economy.”

More than half of states reported an increase in new COVID-19 cases in the past week with new cases in the United States reaching an all-time high on Friday. Hospitalizations also have increased reaching new highs in seven states. In Arizona, for example, COVID-19 hospitalizations have risen from just over 800 on Memorial Day to over 2,600 currently.

Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation was created to supplement modest regular unemployment benefits. Regular benefits replaced less than 40 percent of workers’ wages on average in 2019. In 13 states, these benefits are especially meager and replace less than one-third of workers’ wages. In Florida, the maximum benefit is just $275 per week—the equivalent of about $15,000 per year and below the poverty line for a family of two.

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

Washington, D.C.—Congressman Don Beyer (D-VA), Vice Chair of the U.S. Congress Joint Economic Committee (JEC), today released the following statement after the Department of Labor (DOL) reported that 1.5 million workers filed regular first-time unemployment claims (not seasonally adjusted) for the week ending June 20 and another 728,000 filed claims through Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program for gig workers and others. In total, 2.2 million people filed new unemployment claims.

This is the 14th consecutive week in which more than one million Americans filed a new unemployment insurance claim. The DOL also reported that 30.6 million American workers continued to draw unemployment insurance benefits as of June 6th.

“This is the fourteenth week in a row that the number of people filing new unemployment claims has exceeded the worst week of the Great Recession,” said Beyer. “The President is responding to that crisis with self-congratulation and a total lack of empathy for the millions who remain out of work. Senate Republicans, led by Mitch McConnell, are not doing a single thing to help the economy as the national emergency gets worse.”

“As Fed Chair Jay Powell has said, the economy won’t fully recover until Americans have confidence that the coronavirus is contained. But we’re moving in the opposite direction. New cases reached an all-time high yesterday. At least seven states hit records for COVID-19 hospitalizations this week. The President is not simply failing to lead, but he is actively making matters worse by holding potentially super-spreading events in Tulsa and Phoenix. The price of his callousness and ineptitude will be extremely high.”


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

Washington, D.C.—Ahead of the Juneteenth holiday marking the end of slavery in the United States, JEC Vice Chair Don Beyer (D-VA)—joined by Congresswoman Karen Bass (D-CA), the Chair of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC), and Congresswoman Joyce Beatty (D-OH), the First Vice Chair of the CBC and a JEC member—today re-released two recent committee reports that shed light on the racial disparities at the root of both the coronavirus and police misconduct. The reports—The Economic State of Black America in 2020—and—The Impact of Coronavirus on the Working Poor and People of Color, released in February and April respectively, include updated data on both issues.

“As a Black man in America, George Floyd—murdered by a white police officer in Minneapolis, Minnesota, on May 25—was more likely to die from the coronavirus, and more likely to die at the hands of law enforcement. But Floyd survived the coronavirus, a recent autopsy revealed, only to be killed by a police officer who kneeled on his neck for 8 minutes and 46 seconds until he suffocated,” said Congressman Beyer (D-VA).

Congressman Beyer (D-VA) continued, “The end of Floyd’s life illustrates a fact that many experts have pointed out: the community that is bearing the brunt of the coronavirus is the same community that is bearing the brunt of police misconduct—Black Americans. Ahead of Juneteenth, it is important that we remember and reflect on all the ways that Black Americans have fought and still fight for freedom in a country that is supposed to be the ‘land of the free’—especially now as people take to the streets in the name of Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Rayshard Brooks and other Black Americans whose lives should have mattered to those they paid to protect and serve them.”

“For Black America, these last few months have been nothing short of a pandemic upon a pandemic," said Congresswoman Bass (D-CA), Chair of the Congressional Black Caucus. "However, as we respond to the immediate issues we cannot ignore systemic racism which has simply been exacerbated due to COVID-19. In May, the House passed the HEROES Act, which would provide a substantial boost to the economy during the second half of this year, when the economy is most vulnerable to the pandemic and at most risk of sliding back into recession. If we are really concerned about alleviating the impact of COVID-19 on the African American community, then the HEROES Act needs to urgently be made a law. Black America cannot continue to bear this brunt."

“This year’s Juneteenth celebration comes as our nation and the world confront the COVID-19 pandemic that has exposed deep inequities not just here at home but abroad," said Congresswoman Beatty (D-OH), First Vice Chair of the CBC and a member of the JEC. "The pandemic has disproportionately impacted the Black community and has laid bare disparities in healthcare, employment, housing, policing and our justice system. In fact, the unemployment rate for Black Americans is twice that for Whites, Black homeownership rates are approaching a 50-year low and the median wealth of Black families is one-tenth that of White families."

Congresswoman Beatty (D-OH) continued, "In this moment of crisis, it will take all Americans to work together to overcome the pandemic and to address the long-term systemic discrimination faced by the Black community which the pandemic has exacerbated. These reports issued by the JEC Democrats, under the leadership of Vice Chair Don Beyer, enumerate the many challenges Black Americans face due to structural and entrenched racism and show that the time is now to have a truth and reconciliation process to end racial disparities, unequal treatment and societal injustices that are the long-standing vestiges of slavery in America.”

Juneteenth—also known as Freedom Day, Jubilee Day, Emancipation Day, and Cel-Liberation Day—is an American holiday celebrated annually on June 19. It commemorates June 19, 1865, when Union soldiers—led by General Gordon Granger—arrived in Galveston, TX, with the news that the Civil War had ended and that all previously enslaved people were free.

Last week, President Trump announced that he would resume holding campaign rallies, the first of which would be held on June 19, in Tulsa, OK, the site of one of the worst incidents of white supremacist violence against Black Americans in U.S. history—the 1921 Tulsa race massacre. After receiving backlash, he changed the date to the following day, June 20.

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