PARSIPPANY — Representative Mikie Sherrill (NJ-11) released a statement slamming Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell for his failure to act with any sense of urgency on the expanded unemployment benefits that expire today:
“Seventy-eight days ago, the House passed the Heroes Act, which included critical funding for state and local governments and expanded unemployment benefits. Since May, the unemployment rate has remained higher than even its height during the Great Recession, including in New Jersey. Economists on all sides have said that the expanded unemployment benefits have helped millions of Americans, keeping them out of poverty and ensuring that consumers are spending at Main Street businesses. In my own community, I heard from housing and homelessness organizations this month about the crucial role of expanded unemployment benefits in keeping residents in their homes during the pandemic.
“The expanded benefits expire today. For the Senate to allow a lapse in these benefits now, as COVID-19 continues its spread across the country, is unacceptable. It will put more stress on families and is contrary to our obligation to support Americans during this time of crisis. I told my constituents I was going down to Washington last week to pass additional relief measures, but Senate Majority Leader McConnell has refused to move forward on a realistic package that will keep families whole and this week said he supported slashing benefits to millions of Americans.
“The Senate GOP’s proposed 70% wage replacement level, in particular, represents a huge loss to New Jersey claimants. Our state’s normal UI law already provides a 60% wage replacement, so this new federal supplement would at most provide an additional 10% of an unemployed person’s pre-crisis average weekly wage. For a family who earned $40,000/year before the pandemic, this would be a weekly benefit of just $77/week compared to their current federal benefit of $600/week.
“Senator McConnell needs to act with the urgency this situation demands. Millions of Americans are depending on Congress to extend this vital lifeline.
“It is also critical to ensure that employees are incentivized to return to work when it is safe for them to do so, especially as our small businesses work to rehire and reopen. I’ve crafted a proposal that will both continue to support our families through this critical time period as well as provide incentives for people who are able to find jobs and safely go back to work.”