03.12.20

Kilmer, Rutherford, Herrera Beutler Introduce Bipartisan Legislation to Provide Unemployment Assistance to People Unable to Work Due to Coronavirus Outbreak

Coronavirus Worker Relief Act Expands Current Disaster Unemployment Assistance Program to More Workers

Washington – Today, U.S. Representatives Derek Kilmer (WA-06), John Rutherford (FL-04), and Jaime Herrera Beutler (WA-03) introduced the Coronavirus Worker Relief Act. The new bipartisan, bicameral legislation will provide disaster unemployment assistance to people who are unable to work due to the current coronavirus outbreak. Assistance will be available to individuals, including self-employed individuals and independent contractors, who are sick, quarantined, furloughed, or whose family circumstances keep them from working or reduce their pay as a result of the coronavirus outbreak or government containment efforts. U.S. Senators Gary Peters (D-Mich.), Brian Schatz (D-Hawai‘i), Todd Young (R-Ind.), Mazie K. Hirono (D-Hawai‘i), and Mitt Romney (R-Utah) introduced companion legislation in the Senate.

“In Washington and across the country, we’re already seeing an impact on the financial well-being of individuals and families, local employers, and the entire economy,” said Rep. Kilmer. “By introducing the bipartisan, bicameral Coronavirus Worker Relief Act, we’re taking action to help workers who could face unexpected challenges and economic hardship due to COVID-19 and related containment efforts. At a time like this, providing income security to those who need it most is vitally important.”  

“We cannot force workers to choose between paying their bills and following proper CDC public health protocols,” said Rep. Rutherford. “It is critical to prioritize the safety and well-being of our communities with proactive, preventative measures to combat the spread of COVID-19. With today’s legislation, folks in Northeast Florida and throughout the country would have peace of mind knowing a financial safety net exists if they miss work due to quarantine or other coronavirus-related precautions.”

“As more cases of the novel coronavirus are confirmed in Washington state, the Southwest Washington citizens I represent are already feeling the impact. This is why it’s imperative we have emergency resources to lessen the negative effects of those whose jobs and way of life are being directly impacted by the outbreak. I’m proud to join my colleagues in introducing this bipartisan, bicameral bill to offer emergency unemployment assistance to individuals directly impacted by the novel coronavirus,” said Rep. Herrera Beutler.

The Coronavirus Worker Relief Act will expand the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) Disaster Unemployment Assistance Program by making those who are impacted by the coronavirus outbreak eligible for benefits. Specifically, the bill will:

  • Provide access to disaster unemployment assistance for workers, including self-employed individuals and independent contractors, who are sick, quarantined, furloughed, laid off, or whose individual or family circumstances have changed as a result of COVID-19 or government containment efforts;
  • Waive state waiting periods and work search requirements to ensure that workers can get the assistance they need as soon as possible;
  • Set a minimum amount of assistance at parity with that of state unemployment compensation laws; and
  • Assist states in the administration of this unemployment assistance.

“Michiganders forced to stay at home from work due to Coronavirus shouldn’t need to worry about being able to pay their bills or putting food on the table,” said Senator Peters. “We need to do everything possible to support workers and families during this challenging time. I’m pleased to join this bipartisan effort to help ensure Michigan families can stay afloat financially during the coronavirus outbreak.”

“It is vital to public health that people who feel sick are able to stay home without fear of losing their job or going broke,” said Senator Schatz. “Helping people who can’t work because of a public health emergency is just the right thing to do.”

“If workers are ill, or caring for sick loved ones, they should have the ability to take time off from work without the threat of financial harm. This is what our bipartisan legislation aims to accomplish by providing disaster unemployment assistance for individuals impacted by coronavirus,” said Senator Young. “During this time of uncertainty, we must find solutions to ensure that individuals can comply with public health guidance without facing economic hardship.”

“No worker should have to choose between putting themselves at risk of contracting coronavirus and being to pay their bills and support their families,” Senator Hirono said. “We need to do everything we can to get money in workers’ pockets as quickly as possible. This bipartisan legislation would provide much needed stability and peace of mind to American workers as we confront the growing coronavirus pandemic.”

“Our country is facing a serious health crisis, and Utahns shouldn’t have to choose between a paycheck and protecting their own health,” Senator Romney said. “By providing assistance for those unable to work due to the coronavirus, our legislation will ease the financial uncertainty that families in Utah and across the country may face during this time.”

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