Nearly 40 Democrats wrote a letter to the White House on Friday requesting President Joe Biden propose new federal standards of unemployment insurance programs, increase the number of jobless payments, extend the duration of weekly benefits, expand the pool of eligible workers, and implement a system that reflects economic conditions.
Biden is expected to roll out an anti-poverty measure next week. Despite efforts from lawmakers who have increased jobless payments, some lawmakers are seeking a more permanent change to the social safety net.
“The Cares Act’s emergency programs must be extended to support jobless workers for the duration of the current economic downturn, but we must also fix the underlying problems facing our [unemployment insurance] system so that it can provide economic security for all workers,” lawmakers wrote to Biden, according to the Wall Street Journal.
Last Spring, jobless claims rose to record highs. State unemployment systems couldn’t handle the influx of unemployed workers pouring in. Millions of workers struggled with their respected state’s decades-old technology.
The White House has been studying possible unemployment insurance changes. For now, it is still unknown if the White House will discuss the issue in their upcoming plan set to roll out next week. The program will provide around $1 trillion in paid leave, free prekindergarten, and tuition-free community college.
Republicans have mentioned that the payments distort the labor market. The anti-poverty plan is expected to meet with strong opposition from Republicans.
Labor Secretary Marty Walsh discussed in an interview the overhauling of some of the antiquated technology in some state unemployment systems and the possibility of moving to a national system.
“I think it’s something that we have to just take a good look at and see what’s the best path forward.”