The mid-term congressional election is less than two months away and some observers wonder whether the event will be all about nothing.
WASHINGTON, March 7 -- The office of Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, issued the following news release:
With the nation's economy recovering at a sluggish pace, Senator Lisa Murkowski today announced she joined with six of her Republican colleagues in proposing a five-month extension of long-term unemployment benefits that also reforms key jobless programs without adding a dime to the federal deficit.
The measure - co-sponsored by Senators Kelly Ayotte (R-NH), Mark Kirk (R-IL), Dan Coats (R-IN), Rob Portman (R-OH) and Dean Heller (R-NV) - would retroactively provide relief back to when long-term unemployment insurance expired on December 28th and through June 1st. The bill would be fully funded by extending several financial policies and eliminating fraud in government benefit programs.
"We don't truly address our long-term unemployment problems by merely throwing money at them - what we need is structural reforms that get people back to work. This bill is a rational, reasonable proposal that combines ideas from across the aisle to help provide relief to over a million Americans impacted by the President's failed economic policies, and strengthen our current unemployment programs with real reforms," said Senator Murkowski. "This bill is fully paid for and strikes the right balance to provide support to those who most need it, both through financial and structural means. If the Senate does not and will not allow this bill to come up for a vote - instead pushing a party-line measure paid for by budget gimmicks - it should be clear that they are more interested in cable TV talking points than helping Americans in need."
Details of the fully paid for, five-month unemployment compensation extension:
* Extends federal unemployment insurance benefits for five months, allowing for retroactive benefits.
* Pays for the bill by extending pension smoothing provisions from the 2012 highway bill (MAP-21), customs user fees through 2024, and eliminating overlapping UI/SSDI payments.
Includes reforms that
* Require Emergency Unemployment Compensation (EUC) applicants be assessed by the appropriate state or federal agency to determine why he/she remains unemployed and to identify steps the individual should take to improve employment prospects, such as enrollment in a job training program.
* Strengthen the EUC requirements to ensure benefits go to those actively looking for work and those who truly want to return to the workforce. Prohibits individuals from receiving EUC if they fail to accept offers of suitable work or if they refuse to apply for suitable work referred to them by state employment agency.
* Ensure that limited federal unemployment resources are not being used to provide benefits to millionaires and billionaires.
* Eliminate overlapping UI and Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) payments, with exceptions for disabled individuals engaged in Ticket-to-Work programs.
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