New Reed-Heller bill presents another opportunity to get UI benefits in the hands of Americans who need them 

(Washington, D.C.) – In their continued effort to provide relief for job-seeking Americans, U.S. Senators Jack Reed (D-RI) and Dean Heller (R-NV) today introduced a new proposal to extend unemployment insurance benefits for the long-term unemployed. The new Reed-Heller bill provides prospective emergency benefits and allows eligible job seekers who were cutoff onDecember 28 to pick up where they left off in the UI claims process.

“We need to get our country back to full employment — to a place where all Americans have an opportunity to earn a living and build a better life for their families,” said Senator Reed.  “Restoring unemployment insurance is the decent thing to do, and it is a smart step that will provide some much needed stability and predictability to the long-term unemployed as well as to local businesses and our economy as a whole.  That is why Senator Heller and I continue working on bipartisan solutions that will help job seekers.  I appreciate Senator Heller’s steadfast leadership and commitment to helping more people who’ve been out of work return to the labor force.”

“This year has been extremely difficult for Nevadans who still do not know how they are going to pay their bills or feed their families. Senator Reed and I have gone back to the drawing board, and put together a new proposal that I hope both chambers of Congress can debate and vote on. This new bill allows for job-seeking Americans to collect these important benefits moving forward, and pays for them as well. I am grateful to Senator Reed for his continued partnership on this important issue.  His input and his friendship have been invaluable over the past many months,” said Senator Heller.

Similar to the Senate-passed Reed-Heller bill, this proposal uses a combination of offsets that includes extending “pension smoothing” provisions from the 2012 highway bill (MAP-21), which were set to phase out this year, and extending customs user fees through 2024.

The new the legislation, like the previous Reed-Heller bill, includes a provision modeled on Senator Tom Coburn’s (R-OK) and Jon Tester’s (D-MT) language that ends federal unemployment insurance payments to any individual whose adjusted gross income in the preceding year was $1 million or more.  This provision received unanimous support in the Senate when it was voted on in 2011.

The legislative proposal also includes language to strengthen reemployment and eligibility assessment (REA) and ReEmployment Services (RES) programs.  In an effort to help get job seekers back into the workforce, individuals receiving emergency unemployment compensation will be eligible for enhanced, personalized assessments  and referrals to reemployment services when they begin their 27th week of UI (Tier I) and 55th week of UI (Tier III).

In December 2013, Congress failed to reauthorize the Emergency Unemployment Compensation program, which forced 1.3 million Americans to lose access to their federal unemployment insurance.  Since that time, the number of American job seekers who have exhausted their benefits and had this critical emergency UI safety net cut has reached more than 3.1 million.

Earlier this year, Senators Reed and Heller helped pass a bipartisan bill to restore UI benefits for job seekers through the full U.S. Senate. The House of Representatives never voted on that plan.