Reps. Horsford and Torres Small Introduce Legislation to Address Workforce Needs in Coronavirus Response

July 24, 2020
Press Release

Washington, D.C. Representatives Steven Horsford (NV-04) and Xochitl Torres Small (NM-02) introduced the Back on Your Feet Act, legislation that would extend federal unemployment assistance and provide a benefit to those reentering the workforce during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“This global COVID-19 pandemic has had a devastating impact on Nevada’s economy, forcing thousands of Nevadans to be laid off from work. Since February 2020, more than one in four Nevada workers have lost their jobs statewide, pushing the State’s unemployment rate to 30 percent—the highest level ever reported by any state in modern history,” said Congressman Steven Horsford. “Many Nevadans have been able to return safely back to work, but several industries of the economy remain slow to recover due to the public health crisis. That is why, Congress must extend the federal unemployment benefits for individuals unable to work because of this pandemic AND provide support to workers who are able to return to work safely.”

“Since March, thousands of workers across our state have lost their jobs due to COVID-19. Back to Work Pay would help New Mexicans return to work and support businesses with rehiring efforts, while extended unemployment insurance would provide vital support for the too-many people who cannot get jobs during this unprecedented time.  If passed, this legislation will support our economy and help thousands of New Mexicans get back on their feet as we continue on the path to recovery,” said Congresswoman Torres Small. 

“As our economy continues to suffer in the COVID-19 recession, more federal assistance is desperately needed to support workers and families,” said Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard E. Neal (D-MA). “I applaud Congresswoman Torres Small and Congressman Horsford for their leadership with the Back on Your Feet Act, legislation that both provides critical assistance to workers who can safely return to their jobs and ensures that vulnerable Americans who can’t yet get back to work continue to receive their $600 emergency unemployment benefits into next year. This bill stands in stark contrast to Republicans’ obstructionism and failure to act on behalf of folks who need Congress’s help the most in this crisis.”

This bill would provide a one-time federal payment, or “Back on Your Feet Pay,” of $3,600 for workers who are able to return to work safely, to smooth their transition back to work. As Nevada begins to recover from the most severely impacted economy in the country and the highest unemployment rate at 30 percent, support for our workforce is a key priority for the state. 

Background: 

More than 50 million U.S. workers have filed for unemployment benefits since the onset of the COVID-19 public health crisis. The $600 per-week supplement provided by the CARES Act is slated to expire on July 25th, which will cut expanded benefits for approximately 352,535 Nevadans and leave many families without means to pay their bills or put food on the table. 

Many workers have returned to their jobs or found new ones, but may still be struggling to afford PPE, child care, transportation, and other everyday expenses. Federal support is necessary not only for those facing unemployment, but also for Nevadans returning to work.  

Specifically, the Back on Your Feet Act of 2020 would:

  • Extend federal unemployment benefits through January 31, 2021, protecting over 30 million workers from losing the federal unemployment benefits enacted as part of the CARES Act.
  • Provide one-time federal “Back on Your Feet Pay” in the amount of $3,600 to workers who are able to return to work safely, to help with higher costs of working during the pandemic and to provide income until the first paycheck arrives.
  • Protect workers from losing unemployment benefits if they cannot return to work safely, or if they received past benefit overpayments through no fault of their own and cannot repay them.
  • Provide an additional $2 billion to help states process unemployment applications and pay benefits, and require states and the Department of Labor to report on the number of people still waiting for benefits and develop “corrective action” plans for backlogs.
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