Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Makes Late, Lonely Push For Unemployment Benefits

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The New York Democrat acknowledged that the increased benefits of the pandemic were still doomed, but said someone would at least have to try.

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Democrats When federal unemployment compensation ended this month for 7.5 million workers, there wasn’t much fuss. after all the president Joe Biden said that it was justified to do away with the additional benefits.

But on Wednesday Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (DNY) announced that it would introduce a bill to roll back federal benefits for the long-time unemployed and gig workers, two groups not typically covered by regular unemployment insurance.

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“I am deeply disappointed on both sides of the aisle that we have allowed pandemic unemployment aid to be fully exhausted, when we have clearly not fully recovered from the consequences of the pandemic,” Ocasio-Cortez said. A virtual town hall on Tuesday.

The Ocasio-Cortez bill would continue the two programs until January 2022, but would not bring back the additional $300 per week that expired on September 6. The unemployment system, which only covers workers with significant earnings in traditional payroll jobs.

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The law has almost no chance of becoming law, which Ocasio-Cortez admitted during town hall, saying she was “not quite sure of its prospects.” Still, it was worth a try.

Ocasio-Cortez said, “I simply couldn’t allow pandemic unemployment aid to end, at least one of us was trying and introducing legislation to make it happen.”

When federal unemployment benefits were enacted in response to the Great Recession that ended in 2013, Democrats pushed for weeks for a reauthorization, holding press conferences and a wasted Senate vote. This time he let the benefits go almost unnoticed.

“I was surprised we didn’t hear about the bill introduced earlier because the delta boom gave a complicated return on work,” said Andrew Stetner, an unemployment insurance policy specialist at The Century Foundation.

The Ocasio-Cortez bill is the only one to revive benefits, even though millions more were cut this month than the 1.3 million affected in 2013. (However, a big reason for the larger numbers is that more people received benefits in the first place thanks to the broader eligibility rules.)

But Democrats have made more permanent changes to the federal safety net, from pandemic relief. They are working on a budget bill that could expand Medicare, reduce child care costs and set national standards for universal kindergarten, among other things. The bill does not include changes to the federal-state unemployment system, even though it is struggling to deliver benefits during the pandemic.

Ocasio-Cortez said unemployment is one of the top issues his office hears from constituents about. She encouraged him to call on other lawmakers to build support for restoring benefits.

“Political will is something that can be created by pressure,” she said.

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