Reps. Horsford and Torres Small Urge House Leadership to Vote on Critical Unemployment Relief

August 20, 2020
Press Release

Washington, D.C. -- Representatives Steven Horsford (NV-04) and Xochitl Torres Small (NM-02) sent a letter urging House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to bring forward a vote on critical unemployment insurance relief and swiftly respond to the economic hardships families are facing across the country. The Representatives requested the House bring forth their bill, the Back on Your Feet Act, which would extend the federal unemployment and provide a one-time payment for those returning to the workforce. 

“Unemployment compensation has and will continue to be crucial in helping families pay their bills, put food on the table, and deal with the ongoing impact of the pandemic,” the lawmakers wrote. “We strongly urge the House to pass the Back on Your Feet Act, expeditiously providing relief to struggling families in Nevada, New Mexico, and across the country.”

The Back on Your Feet Act, introduced by Representatives Horsford and Torres Small, would reinstate the federal weekly $600 unemployment compensation until January 31, 2021. Additionally, it would provide a single federal “Back on Your Feet Pay” in the amount of $3,600 to workers who are able to return to work safely, to help cover costs of housing, childcare, transportation, food, PPE, and other necessary expenses.

 

The bill will also protect workers from losing unemployment benefits if they cannot return to work safety or if they received past benefit overpayments through no fault of their own and cannot repay them. The bill provides $2 billion in funding to help states process unemployment applications and pay benefits and requires states and the Department of Labor to report on the number of people still waiting for benefits and develop “corrective action” plans for backlogs. 

 

A section-by-section summary of the bill can be found here and the text of the bill can be found here.

 

Read the full text of the letter here or below. 

 

August 19, 2020

Dear Speaker Pelosi,

We write today to respectfully request that the House make a strong effort to push forward bipartisan negotiations with the Senate on the now-expired supplemental unemployment benefits our constituents desperately need. When the supplemental benefits expired in July, Nevadans and New Mexicans alike were left without the means to pay their bills and put food on the table for their families. While we await progress in these bipartisan negotiations with the House and Senate, we urge you bring forward stand-alone legislation that provides relief to millions of Americans who are facing record unemployment amidst the COVID-19 health pandemic, as well as provide a one-time payment to help Americans who are able to reenter the workforce.

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, Americans have witnessed over 170,000 lives claimed by the virus, and millions of workers have lost their jobs as a result of the public health emergency.  The consequences of mass unemployment in our districts are staggering—in January 2020, prior to the COVID-19 public health crisis, Nevada’s unemployment rate was at a record 3.6 percent. By April 2020, the pandemic had caused Nevada’s unemployment rate to shoot up to a record high of 30.1 percent. Likewise, in New Mexico, 87.6% of those facing unemployment worry they will not be able to pay their rent or mortgage in the coming months. Although we have been able to begin gradually reopening the economy in certain sectors, we know this crisis is far from over. The week ending in August 8th, unemployment claims increased from the prior week in both Nevada and New Mexico, as our local economies continue to brace the impact of statewide stay-at-home orders and decreased tourism.

While an overwhelming number of workers saw some relief from Congress’s COVID-19 relief efforts to bolster the unemployment compensation program, we continue to hear from our constituents who are struggling to make ends meet. That is why we joined together to introduce the Back on Your Feet Act, which would extend unemployment compensation through January 31, 2021, protecting over 30 million workers from losing the federal unemployment benefits enacted as part of the CARES Act.

This legislation also includes additional provisions that build on the CARES Act and ensure that workers who are able to reenter to the workforce also receive the help they need. Our bill would provide a one-time back to work payment of $3,600 to help Americans cover the increased costs of child care, transportation, and PPE that enable them to return to work. This is not intended to force workers back to work if they are not safe, and would protect workers from losing their benefits if they are unable to return to work safely, or if they received past benefit overpayments through no fault of their own and cannot repay them. Lastly, the measure would also provide an additional $2 billion to assist states improve their technology systems and administer unemployment benefits to claimants.

Unemployment compensation has and will continue to be crucial in helping families pay their bills, put food on the table, and deal with the ongoing impact of the pandemic. We remain hopeful that a bipartisan agreement will happen on the next economic and pandemic package. We strongly urge the House to pass the Back on Your Feet Act, expeditiously providing relief to struggling families in Nevada, New Mexico, and across the country.

 

Thank you for your consideration to this request and I appreciate your diligent and committed work during this crisis.

 

Sincerely,

 

Steven Horsford (NV-04) and Xochitl Torres Small (NM-02) 

 
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