WASHINGTON - Illinois' U.S. Senator Mark Kirk is working with a group of Senate colleagues on a proposal to not only extend the unemployment insurance by five months, but provide the funds to pay for it.
Senator Kirk, along with Senators Dean Heller (R-Nev.), Susan Collins (R-Maine), Rob Portman (R-Ohio), Dan Coats (R-Ind.), Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) and Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.) formulated the plan to be considered by Congress.
"Illinois has one of the highest unemployment rates in the country, and it has been a priority of mine to find a financially responsible and commonsense way to extend unemployment benefits for those in need of them," Senator Kirk said. "This is an issue that is affecting thousands of citizens, and I strongly urge my colleagues across the aisle to support this responsible legislation."
The proposal -
- Extends federal unemployment insurance benefits for five months, allowing for retroactive benefits.
- Includes the following offsets:
- Extending pension smoothing provisions from the 2012 highway bill (MAP-21);
- Extending Customs User Fees through 2024;
- Eliminating overlapping UI/SSDI payments.
- Reforms the current program:
- Requires that Emergency Unemployment Compensation (EUC) applicants be assessed by the appropriate state or federal agency to determine why he/she remains unemployed and to identify steps the individual should take to improve employment prospects, such as enrollment in a job training program.
- Reforms the EUC program to strengthen requirements to ensure benefits go to those actively looking for work and those who truly want to return to the workforce. Prohibits individuals from receiving EUC if they fail to accept offers of suitable work or if they refuse to apply for suitable work referred to them by state employment agency.
- Ensures that limited federal unemployment resources are not being used to provide benefits to millionaires and billionaires.
- Eliminates overlapping UI and Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) payments, with exceptions for disabled individuals engaged in Ticket-to-Work programs.