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- An Extra
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Mr. President, several Senators on the other side have been arguing against the provision in this bill to supercharge unemployment insurance right now, something
Supercharged unemployment benefits was something
I don't believe anybody in America should fall into destitution as a result of this pandemic, so I obviously disagree with my colleagues who oppose our agreement to improve unemployment benefits. I want to make just a few key points in response to their argument.
First, let me start with one argument that just about knocked the wind out of me when I heard it earlier today. It's the idea that nurses are going to quit their jobs as a result of this legislation. Nurses will not be quitting their jobs to get unemployment benefits. That's not how unemployment insurance works. It's not how nurses think when they get up in the morning.
By now, everybody has seen the herculean efforts of our nurses fighting this pandemic. Nurses in America are brave, they are caring and they are professionals. From
Second, it's a head-scratcher to me that
Third, let's talk about why it's needed - why my Democratic colleagues and I worked so hard to help the millions hit by this economic wrecking ball. For most people, the old unemployment rules would cover only a third to half of their lost wages - that's it. That doesn't pay the rent and put food on the table.
Even before this crisis, the
So let's face it, most Americans are already walking on an economic tightrope - and that's before this pandemic. That's why an improved, supercharged unemployment benefit is needed to replace people's lost wages. They shouldn't face a choice between homelessness, hunger or bankruptcy because a virus has shut down our economy and lost them their job. This isn't anybody's fault.
And while the consumer economy is shuttered, the
We're now on the third bill in the fight against the coronavirus.
You're talking about millions and millions of Americans - people who are looking at hard times ahead, and they need our help right away. The old UI system wasn't working, so
Now let me address why this agreement raises benefits specifically by
We needed a simple solution, and you don't have to believe me. I'm going to share the words of Secretary Mnuchin himself. Just today, he said, quote, "Most of these state systems have technology that is 30 years old or older. If we had the ability to customize this with much more specifics, we would have. This was the only way we could ensure states could get the money out quickly and in a fair way so we used
That's why negotiators came to an agreement to increase benefits by
So I'll close on this. I'm sure that everybody here read that unemployment claims are expected to go up by 2.5 million in one week when the statistics are released tomorrow. Two point five million. That's almost as many jobs were lost in the entire year of 2008, when the Great Recession was hitting this country like a wrecking ball. It is the single largest rise in unemployment since it started being tracked.
Twelve entire months' worth of Great Recession job losses - that's how many unemployment claims economists expect to see in a single week. This country has never faced anything like this. It's not a normal recession. This isn't a normal stimulus bill, in which the government tries to give the economy a shot of fiscal adrenaline. This is a shutdown of entire sectors of our economy. What the
Americans want to work. Businesses want to keep their employees on the job. Everybody wants the economy to spring back to life once this pandemic is under control. That's what supercharging unemployment benefits is all about.
So here's the bottom line on supercharging unemployment insurance. This isn't new. It's not a "drafting error." It's not going to bring on the end of Western Civilization.
This is how you keep millions and millions of Americans from falling into destitution.