WASHINGTON— Today the House Ways and Means Committee unanimously passed bipartisan legislation introduced by Congresswoman Stephanie Murphy of Winter Park, Fla., and cosponsored by Reps. Jackie Walorski, R-Ind., Xochitl Torres Small, D-N.M., and Darin LaHood, R-Ill., to create more opportunities for working families to get ahead. The BRIDGE for Workers Act would give states more flexibility in administering existing unemployment benefits to help more Americans re-enter the workforce and find good-paying jobs. The bill would give as many as 25,000 Floridians claiming unemployment insurance benefits each week access to re-employment services.
“Few experiences are more difficult for working families than when someone loses a job, which is why I’m proud my bill will help move more Americans more quickly from unemployment to a good-paying job. We need more bridges to the middle class not more barriers,” said Murphy. “I’m glad to see this bill move one step closer to becoming law as it will provide much-needed relief to hardworking families and restore the dignity that comes with earning a paycheck for every worker.”
“The unemployment program plays a key role in helping those who fall on hard times get back on their feet, but for too long it has focused on simply processing checks,” said Walorski. “We need to treat unemployed workers like people, not numbers on a spreadsheet. With this bipartisan bill, we are refocusing on the individual needs of workers to help them get back into the workforce quickly and to minimize the impact on them and their families.”
“To build a strong and vibrant economy, we need job training and support getting people back to work.” said Torres Small. “When we provide people struggling to find new work with the tools they need, we strengthen our local communities and keep our nation competitive in the global economy. I am proud to help lead the bipartisan BRIDGE For Workers Act with my colleagues Rep. Stephanie Murphy (FL-7), Rep. Jackie Walorski (IN-2), and Rep. Darin LaHood (IL-18).”
“With over seven million unfilled jobs in this country, opportunity is abound. It’s important we empower individuals to get off the sidelines and back to work. Every week a parent spends out of the workforce, through no fault of their own, is a week too long,” said LaHood. “This bipartisan fix for reemployment services will help more workers shorten their benefit durations and get back to receiving what they want most, a paycheck.
The U.S. Department of Labor awards annual grants to states and territories so they can provide a range of services to recipients of unemployment benefits and help them find work. Services include individual career counseling, assistance with job searches, and information on the local labor market. Under current law, however, states can only use their federal grants to assist workers who are expected to exhaust their unemployment benefits before they find work. This unnecessary restriction prevents many unemployed workers from getting valuable assistance. The Murphy bill would remove this restriction and allow states to use their grants to provide support to any individual receiving unemployment benefits, as long as the state believes these services would help them return to work more quickly. The Congressional Budget Office estimates that new investments in re-employment services scheduled over the next decade would reduce the budget deficit by $600 million between 2022 and 2027.
The legislation is endorsed by the National Association of State Workforce Agencies (NASWA), the non-partisan national organization representing all 50 state workforce agencies, D.C., and U.S. territories. It is expected to come up for a vote on the floor of the House of Representatives in the following weeks.