Huffman, Lieu, Lofgren, and Bera Demand Senate Extend Emergency Unemployment Insurance Amid Pandemic

July 27, 2020

House Passed Bill in May to Extend Weekly Payments,

If Senate Refuses to Act Before End of July, 30 Million Americans Will Lose $600 Weekly Income

 3,661,469 Californians Could Lose 66% of their Unemployment Income

San Rafael, CA – Representatives Jared Huffman (CA-02), Ted Lieu (CA-33), Zoe Lofgren (CA-19), and Ami Bera (CA-07), held a call with regional reporters today calling on the Senate to extend $600 weekly emergency unemployment payments that are due to expire at the end of this month. 

In May, the House passed legislation known as the Heroes Act to extend emergency unemployment payments and other critical lifelines for workers and families amid the Coronavirus pandemic. But the Senate has refused to bring it up for a vote.  

  • If Senate Republicans allow the emergency unemployment program to expire, 30 million American workers will lose $600 in weekly income – as more and more Americans file for unemployment each week. 
  • Economists estimate that allowing emergency unemployment income to expire could drop U.S. GDP by 2.5%, harming the already struggling economy, delaying the recovery and causing even Americans to lose their jobs. 
  • 3,661,469 Californians could lose an estimated  66% of their unemployment income if the Senate refuses to act.

In addition to extending emergency unemployment income, the House-passed Heroes Act also supports state and local governments that been forced to slash nearly 1.5 million jobs as state budgets are coming due amid crushing budget shortfalls. The House lawmakers insisted that the Senate act quickly to support these workers and essential services, too.

“As is the case with many California communities, the economy of the North Bay and North Coast is driven by tourism, travel, hospitality, and recreation. There are countless small businesses up and down the north coast that fall into this category. A lot of them took PPP loans with the expectation that the Trump administration would spend the spring and summer putting plans in place to fight the pandemic,” said Rep. Huffman. “That time was squandered, and with the pandemic and economic downturn far from over, the clock is ticking for these small businesses to survive. Time is up, and the Senate needs to act -- now. The people we serve cannot afford to wait, and my House Democratic colleagues and I are doing everything in our power to extend these benefits and help our communities keep the lights on.”

"Though the House passed additional COVID-19 relief funding in May, the GOP-led Senate has sat on its hands while millions of Americans continue to struggle. There are 30 million Americans currently receiving unemployment support after losing their jobs because of this pandemic. If we let those benefits expire, like the Senate Republicans are planning, people's lives will be significantly affected. If Mitch McConnell and the Senate Republicans fail to act quickly, American workers and our economy will suffer even more. We can't wait any longer - the Senate must pass the Heroes Act," said Rep. Lieu.

“I’ve heard from Santa Clara County families detailing how the $600 unemployment benefit we passed in the CARES Act is the reason they’re able to keep their homes and put food on the table during the pandemic. Yet Senate Republicans are failing to address their needs and the needs of tens of millions Americans as COVID-19 continues to ravage our country,” said Rep. Lofgren. “To slow the ongoing economic damage from the pandemic, we must provide federal aid to state and local governments and extend enhanced federal unemployment benefits. The Senate has a final chance before the end of this month to prevent more unnecessary suffering.” 

“The House voted over two months ago to pass the Heroes Act to get much-needed assistance to communities across America being impacted by COVID-19. It’s completely unacceptable that the Senate and Majority Leader Mitch McConnell have sat on this bill, leaving more than 25 million Americans at risk of losing access to unemployment insurance. It’s past time for the Senate to pass the Heroes Act to protect the health and economic security of American families across the country,” said Rep. Bera.

In addition to extending emergency unemployment insurance, the Heroes Act that the House passed in May will  protect the paychecks of frontline workers, provide direct payments of up to $6,000 for families who are struggling, support small businesses and invest in the testing needed to reopen our economy safely. 

Without the funding provided by the Heroes Act, state and local governments have already been forced to slash nearly 1.5 million jobs as state budgets are coming due amid crushing budget shortfalls. The Heroes Act supports health care workers, fire, transportation, EMS, teachers and other vital workers by making sure state, local, territorial and tribal governments have the funds they need to pay these workers.

A summary of the Heroes Act is available HERE.