Touting a bill he and North Carolina Republican Ted Budd introduced in Congress on Tuesday, Windsor-based Republican congressman Ken Buck continued his consistent criticism of the CARES Act, saying it incentivized unemployment through benefits that are too high for those who are out of work due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Getting Americans Back to Work Act, Buck said, caps the amount an individual can receive from unemployment insurance at 100% of their previous wages, fixing, a release said, “glaring errors in the CARES Act” that provide too much money to people who have lost their jobs and are relying on unemployment insurance.

“America’s Grand Reopening starts by getting people back to work. We need to fix the glaring flaws in the CARES Act that have incentivized many Americans to remain out of work by providing more income through unemployment benefits than they would have received from their employer,” Buck said in the statement released by his office. “A record number of Americans have lost their jobs because of this nationwide shutdown and we need to do everything we can to encourage people to safely return to their places of work. Our strong, vibrant workforce is the backbone of our nation and is the key to a full recovery.”

The bill itself presents a small amendment to the CARES Act section 2107 to ensure nobody claiming unemployment benefits can receive more than his or her weekly wages. It also authorizes the Secretary of Labor to require wage reporting and recover overpayments of unemployment benefits.

Otherwise, the current text of the bill does not include additional measures about how or when American might return to work — safe or otherwise.

Budd is quoted in the release from Bucks’ office, as well, saying the reason businesses are struggling is because they can’t hire from an unemployed workforce because these workers don’t want to work, since unemployment benefits are higher than the potential wages being offered by the businesses. However, no additional evidence was cited to support that claim.

“As we continue to confront the effects of the Coronavirus, we have to work towards reopening our country,” Budd said in the release. “At a time when our unemployment rate has surged to its highest point since the Great Depression, businesses across the nation are struggling to hire workers because many individuals are receiving more money through unemployment insurance than they earned when they were working. We must do everything in our power to eliminate this perverse incentive. We have to get our fellow citizens back into the workforce as soon as possible.”

The office of Colorado’s Democratic U.S. Senator, Michael Bennet, reached by email, opted not to comment on the bill.

Cuyler Meade


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