Sen. Blackburn Pushes to Repeal Unemployment Benefits Bonus

May 11, 2021

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Marsha Blackburn cosigned the Get Americans Back to Work Act to repeal the increase in unemployment benefits brought on by President Biden and the Democrats. This bicameral legislation in was introduced by U.S. Senator Roger Marshall, M.D. (R-Kan.) and U.S. Representative Dusty Johnson (R-S.D.), along with cosigners Senators Mike Braun (R-Ind.), Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.), Steve Daines (R-Mont.), Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Rick Scott (R-Fla.), Tim Scott (R-S.C.), and Tommy Tuberville (R- Ala.).


Earlier this year, Democrats forced through legislation without any Republican support that provided $300 more in unemployment benefits, in turn making it more profitable for many Americans to stay unemployed. This legislation follows the release of Friday’s dismal Department of Labor (DOL) report showing an uptick in the unemployment rate to 6.1% and employers only adding 266,000 jobs last month, despite widespread projections of over one million jobs to be gained in April.


“All across Tennessee, business owners are struggling to get workers back on the job,” said Senator Blackburn. “Meanwhile, President Joe Biden and Washington liberals are paying people more money to stay at home. It’s time to reduce big government handouts that incentivize Americans to remain unemployed now that jobs are plentiful.” 


“Throughout my travels across Kansas I hear constantly how employers are struggling to find people for open jobs because folks are staying at home due to the rich unemployment benefits and the stimulus checks that Democrats continue to enhance. While there are certainly people that needed access to increased unemployment benefits during the heart of this pandemic, we should not be in the business of creating lucrative government dependency that makes it more beneficial to stay unemployed rather than return to work,” said Senator Marshall. “At a time when our nation is on its way to reaching herd immunity and businesses are emerging from government imposed lockdowns, President Biden has delivered them a government imposed labor shortage.”


“There are a record eight million American jobs waiting to be filled and those who want the COVID-19 vaccine have access to it,” said U.S. Representative Dusty Johnson. “We need to stop paying people more to sit at home than to work. It’s past time to get America back to work, and our bill does that.”


“I hear from businesses small and large up and down Indiana that they can’t get workers back on the job, and a big reason is that the federal government is still paying folks to stay on the sidelines with an additional enhanced federal unemployment benefit. The federal government is a poor replacement for an economy, and as every American adult is eligible for a vaccine if they want one it’s time to get America back to work,” said Senator Braun.


“President Biden and Democrats in Congress rammed through a program which incentivizes workers to stay at home unemployed instead of finding a job, and the American economy is starting to suffer because of it,” said Senator Cramer. “Our bill follows North Dakota’s lead by ending enhanced unemployment benefits and allowing Congress to repurpose these taxpayer dollars for meaningful investments that create jobs like infrastructure, not short-term payoffs that cause a workforce shortage.”


“Across Montana, businesses are putting up ‘help wanted’ and 'now hiring' signs, and many are even being forced to close because they can’t find enough workers. Instead of keeping folks on the sidelines and giving people more money to stay home, we should incentivize getting back to work,” said Senator Daines.


“COVID-19 has undoubtedly caused hardship for millions of families across the United States and in Iowa. Because of Operation Warp Speed, we now have vaccines; and COVID cases, hospitalizations, and deaths are trending down. Despite efforts by the Democrats to dis-incentivize work, it is time for us to get America running again,” said Senator Ernst. “Governor Reynolds has taken a helpful step toward growing our workforce by curbing the additional federal unemployment benefits, and now we need to do more nationwide.”


“The federal unemployment benefit has had the effect of discouraging return to work. It is now time for that program to come to an end,” said Senator Graham. “The federal unemployment benefit has made it almost impossible for service industry businesses to maintain their workforce. In a significant number of cases, the unemployment benefits exceed wages earned from working. I know many have lost work due to no fault of their own, but it is now time to let the economy open fully depending on employer wages, not government benefits.”


“Businesses throughout Florida have signs on their doors saying they are understaffed due to the ‘labor crisis,’” said Senator Rubio. “The inability to find employees is a real problem, and small employers across our country are struggling to maintain their businesses. This legislation would help Americans get back to work and help our economy recover.”


“Florida businesses are working hard to reopen and recover from the impacts of the pandemic, but many are struggling to find workers because they can’t compete with the enhanced unemployment benefits paying people more to stay home than work. I’ve always supported targeted help for families and businesses, but I warned about this issue a year ago. Of course, when I proposed a solution to ensure the government wasn’t creating a disincentive for people to return to work, the Democrats blocked it. Now, it’s holding back our economy. As job openings continue to grow, it’s clear the economy is ready to go. Our bill will help repeal this disincentive to work, so we can finally get Americans back to work,” said Senator Rick Scott.


“Before the pandemic, Republican-led policies created the most inclusive economy in my lifetime with record low unemployment for minorities. When the pandemic hit we passed bipartisan legislation to get business owners and workers the help they needed to get through a tough year,” said Senator Tim Scott. “Now, America is on the rebound. But rather than encouraging folks to reenter the workforce, the Biden administration is pushing a policy that pays people not to work—further crippling our already recovering economy. South Carolina businesses are looking for workers, and I’m glad that our governor is leading by example to incentivize folks to get back to work again. It’s time we put our entire country on the path to follow suit.”




The Get Americans Back to Work Act decreases the unemployment bonus to $150 per week at the end of May, and then fully repeals them out at the end of June.


U.S. hiring takes big step back as businesses scramble for workers, raw materials (Reuters) The Labor Department's closely watched employment report on Friday, which showed a plunge in temporary help jobs - a harbinger for future hiring - as well as decreases in manufacturing, retail and courier services employment, sparked a heated debate about the generosity of unemployment benefits. The enhanced jobless benefits, including a government-funded $300 weekly supplement, pay more than most minimum wage jobs. The benefits were extended until early September as part of a $1.9 trillion COVID-19 pandemic relief package approved in March. Montana and South Carolina are ending government-funded pandemic unemployment benefits for residents next month… That left employment 8.2 million jobs below its peak in February 2020. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce urged the government to scrap the weekly unemployment subsidy, but the White House dismissed complaints the generous unemployment checks were causing worker shortages.


Millions Are Unemployed. Why Can’t Companies Find Workers? (WSJ) …Domino’s Pizza Chief Executive Richard Allison said last week that the labor market right now in the U.S. is creating the most difficult staffing environment the company has seen in a long time. “The real pinch point in the business is drivers,” he said on the company’s earnings conference call… Under relief bills passed by Congress, those receiving jobless benefits get an additional $300 a week on top of regular state benefits, which average $318 a week, according to the Labor Department. That means the average unemployment recipient earns better than the equivalent of working full time at $15 an hour. Those enhanced benefits are available until September, for a maximum of nearly 18 months—about three times longer than most states typically allow.


New homes cost $36,000 more because of an epic shortage of lumber (KAKE) … Chesson said his company would love to build more homes to meet surging demand but currently it can't find the materials, or labor, to do so. "It's absolutely contributing to a shortage of housing," he said… The lumber shortage is just the latest example of how the rapid economic recovery from the pandemic is pushing supply chains to the limit. Manufacturers are desperate for workers. Smartphone, auto and appliance production is being sidelined by a shortage of computer chips. And the lack of tanker truck drivers has raised the specter of gas stations running on empty this summer.


Montana to Feds: No More No-Work Bonus (WSJ) The economy is roaring back as government lockdowns finally end, and employers are struggling to find workers. Enter Montana with a novel idea: telling the feds that it doesn’t want their extra payments for not working….Montana’s smart move proves again that Congress did far more harm than good with its bonus jobless benefit, and it could help the job market recover faster by repealing it.


Restaurants, hotels face staff shortages, struggle to hire as business returns (KOMO News) After a devastating year struggling to survive during the pandemic, many hotels and restaurants now face a new challenge - they can’t find help… Some people aren’t going back to work because they can’t find child care. Others are counting on extended unemployment benefits. “There are continued unemployment extension benefits that are at least significant enough to give people room to reconsider their career,” said Hirschler. “People are being more choosy than ever when it comes to where they are going to work - whether that’s to fulfill some sort of obligation they might have with the unemployment office, as they return to the labor force, or maybe they’re just job seeking to continue their benefits, or it’s they’re going to be very particular about the place they choose to work,” said Krueger. “Regardless, it’s yielding the same result, which is people are not sticking around to inquire about a job that we ultimately hire.”


Why Your Grocery Bills Are Going Up (And Are Only Expected to Get Bigger) (Foundation for Economic Education) …Other producers in the agriculture sector have struggled to obtain the workers needed to ramp up production. Across the country, small businesses have been unable to attract Americans back to the workplace as many remain on increased unemployment benefits that pay more than work…


High trucking costs are expected to last through 2021, adding to retailers' challenges (Business Insider) … Rising freight costs have been a problem since last year. At the time, trucking companies began offering huge wage increases to attract drivers to the industry. The lack of drivers has since been complicated by a semi-conductor shortage keeping new trucks from coming on the market, the Journal said.