Coons, Isakson, Kaine, Portman introduce bill to help unemployed Americans find good jobs, call for swift Senate passage

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senators Chris Coons (D-Del.), JohnnyIsakson (R-Ga.), Tim Kaine (D-Va.), and Rob Portman (R-Ohio) introduced legislation to help more unemployed Americans reenter the workforce. The Building on Reemployment Improvements to Deliver Good Employment (BRIDGE)for Workers Act would give states more flexibility in administering existing unemployment benefits to help more Americans find good-payingjobs. These reemployment benefits—which include job search assistance,employability assessment, job matching, financial literacy services, andassistance with resume writing and interviewing—have proved highly successful. When workers are laid off, early access to these services reduces the duration of their unemployment, strengthening both the economic security of working families and the solvency of state unemployment trust funds.U.S. Representatives Stephanie Murphy (D-Fla.), Jackie Walorski (R-Ind.),Xochitl Torres Small (D-N.M.), and Darin LaHood (R-Ill.) introduced companion legislation in the House, which passed with bipartisan supporton April 9, 2019. Senate passage of the bill will send it to thePresident’s desk.“Today’s job market can be highly disruptive,” said Senator Coons. “A newtechnology or a shuttered factory can quickly put a hardworking Americanout of a job. Unemployment Insurance is an earned benefit that providesmuch-needed support, but during these uncertain times, many can benefitfrom additional help finding a new well-paying job. Meeting face-to-facewith an expert, who can identify good job opportunities and coach peoplethrough the hiring process, can make all the difference, and the BRIDGEfor Workers Act gives states the flexibility to offer that service to moreworkers. I call on my Senate colleagues to quickly pass this commonsense,bipartisan bill.”“The BRIDGE for Workers Act is commonsense legislation that would helpmore job-seeking Americans find valuable employment more quickly andprovide states with more flexibility to aid these workers moreeffectively,” said Senator Isakson. “Through employment services,counseling and access to relevant data, this measure would help improveopportunities for Americans looking to finding a job.”“If we can do more to help hardworking Americans gain employment again, wehave to do it. In a changing economy, this bipartisan legislation wouldgive more Americans who are out of work access to career counseling andimprove assistance with job searches, resume writing, and interviews. Thiscommonsense bill is good for workers and good for our economy,” saidSenator Kaine.“Reemployment services like job counseling and interview coaching areeffective tools that will help strengthen our nation’s workforce,” saidSenator Portman. “The Congressional Budget Office has concluded that thistargeted expansion of these reemployment services will help reduce thedeficit because of their proven effectiveness in helping more Americansreenter the job market. I am happy to help lead this legislation alongsidethis results-minded group of legislators.”“Having a job provides Americans with a well-earned paycheck, the abilityto provide for their family, and a sense of dignity,” said CongresswomanMurphy. “I was proud to steer this bipartisan bill successfully throughthe House, and I thank Senator Coons for leading the companion effort inthe Senate to give more unemployed Americans the skills and resources theyneed to return to the workforce.”“The Unemployment Insurance program plays a critical role in helpingworkers get back on their feet when they fall on hard times, but it shoulddo more than simply process checks,” said Congresswoman Walorski.“Treating unemployed workers like people, not numbers on a spreadsheet, isthe key to helping them find good jobs more quickly. I’m grateful to mycolleagues in the Senate for their work to help get this bill to thepresident’s desk so states can focus on the individual needs of workersand families can thrive.”The U.S. Department of Labor awards annual grants to states andterritories so they can provide reemployment services to unemploymentclaimants and help them find work. Under current law, however, states canonly use their federal grants to assist workers who are expected toexhaust their unemployment benefits before they find work. Thisunnecessary restriction prevents many unemployed workers from gettingvaluable assistance. The BRIDGE for Workers Act would remove thisrestriction and allow states to use their grants to provide support to anyindividual receiving unemployment benefits, as long as the state believesthese services would help them return to work more quickly. TheCongressional Budget Office estimates that new investments in reemploymentservices 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 WorkforceAgencies (NASWA), the non-partisan national organization representing all50 state workforce agencies, D.C., and U.S. territories.