Washington—Heritage Action released the following statement regarding an amendment to the CARES Act:
As Congress responds to the economic fallout from the coronavirus, many provisions of the Senate’s Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act or CARES Act (H.R. 748) fall short of being temporary, targeted and directed at public health efforts. Conservatives have offered alternatives throughout the legislative process to make the bill more targeted and rid it of waste.
The federal government’s primary economic responsibility at this time is to keep as many people as possible connected to their employer. This will allow us to minimize the economic fallout of this pandemic-induced downturn while positioning us to more quickly return to normal. In a direct response to those efforts, the Senate will vote today on an amendment to the CARES Act that would ensure additional unemployment insurance benefits do not result in an individual receiving unemployment compensation that exceeds the amount the individual was earning prior to becoming unemployed.
Offered by Republican Senators Ben Sasse (NE), Lindsey Graham (SC), Tim Scott (SC), Ted Cruz (TX), and Rick Scott (FL), this amendment would cap the unemployment benefits at full salary before the COVID-19 crisis began.
As currently written, the unemployment insurance provisions in the CARES Act threaten America's workforce. Instead of protecting workers, they create a situation in which employees are better off being fired than remaining employed during this pandemic-created economic downturn.
Paul Winfree of the Heritage Foundation explains:
As currently drafted, the CARES Act will cripple the economy by pushing people away from their employers and onto unemployment insurance. This will ultimately hurt workers who will be better off remaining attached to their jobs so that when the pandemic subsides we can all get back to work as quickly as possible. The primary goal of policymakers should be to keep Americans attached to their employers, not government programs.
The federal government should be supporting gainful employment during this crisis, not undercutting it by offering higher salaries to those who are laid off. While The Heritage Foundation recommended many changes to the underlying bill which would create stronger incentives to keep the employee connected to the employer, this amendment would improve the bill and help toward that end.
Heritage Action supports the Sasse amendment and all Senators should vote to pass this amendment so that as many workers as possible remain employed during this crisis.