WASHINGTON— Today the U.S. House of Representatives passed on a 393-24 vote bipartisan legislation introduced by Congresswoman Stephanie Murphy of Winter Park, Fla., and cosponsored by Reps. Jackie Walorski, R-Ind., Xochitl Torres Small, D-N.M., and Darin LaHood, R-Ill., to create more opportunities for working families to get ahead. The BRIDGE for Workers Act would give states more flexibility in administering existing unemployment benefits to help more Americans re-enter the workforce and find good-paying jobs. The bill would give as many as 25,000 Floridians claiming unemployment insurance benefits each week access to re-employment services.
“No person wants to find themselves in the challenging and stressful situation of being unemployed. We must help people get back to work so that they can feel the sense of dignity that comes with earning a paycheck, providing for their family, and contributing to our economy,” said Murphy. “I’m glad to see this bipartisan bill pass the House with near universal support, and urge my Senate colleagues to act on this commonsense measure that will give unemployed Americans the skills and resources they need to return to the workforce as quickly as possible.”
“The unemployment insurance program plays a critical role in helping workers get back on their feet when they fall on hard times, but it should do more than simply process checks,” Walorski said. “Treating unemployed workers like people, not numbers on a spreadsheet, is the key to helping them find good jobs more quickly. This bipartisan legislation will give states more flexibility to focus on the individual needs of workers to help them get back into the workforce and to help their families thrive.”
“To build a strong and vibrant economy, we need robust job training and support services getting people back to work.” said Torres Small. “When we provide people struggling to find new work with the tools they need, we strengthen our local communities and keep our nation competitive in the global economy. I am proud to help lead the bipartisan BRIDGE For Workers Act with my colleagues Rep. Stephanie Murphy (FL-7), Rep. Jackie Walorski (IN-2), and Rep. Darin LaHood (IL-18).”
“With over seven million unfilled jobs in this country, opportunity is abound. It’s important we empower individuals to get off the sidelines and back to work. Every week a parent spends out of the workforce, through no fault of their own, is a week too long,” said LaHood. “This bipartisan fix for reemployment services will help more workers shorten their benefit durations and get back to receiving what they want most, a paycheck. I urge our Senate colleagues to swiftly pass this legislation.”
The U.S. Department of Labor awards annual grants to states and territories so they can provide a range of services to recipients of unemployment benefits and help them find work. Services include individual career counseling, assistance with job searches, and information on the local labor market. Under current law, however, states can only use their federal grants to assist workers who are expected to exhaust their unemployment benefits before they find work. This unnecessary restriction prevents many unemployed workers from getting valuable assistance. The Murphy-Walorski-Torres Small-LaHood bill would remove this restriction and allow states to use their grants to provide support to any individual receiving unemployment benefits, as long as the state believes these services would help them return to work more quickly. The Congressional Budget Office estimates that new investments in re-employment services scheduled over the next decade would reduce the budget deficit by $600 million between 2022 and 2027.
The legislation is endorsed by the National Association of State Workforce Agencies (NASWA), the non-partisan national organization representing all 50 state workforce agencies, D.C., and U.S. territories. The bill now moves to the U.S. Senate for its consideration.
For more information on the Building on Reemployment Improvements to Deliver Good Employment (BRIDGE) for Workers Act, click here. Full text of the bill can be found here.