Statement of U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner on GAO Report Indicating ‘Flawed’ Unemployment Claim Estimates by Trump Administration
Dec 01 2020
WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA) released the statement below after a government watchdog report revealed that the Trump Administration has been publishing “flawed estimates” of the number of unemployed individuals receiving benefits each week throughout the pandemic. The report also found that the majority of states have struggled to calculate and pay Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) claimants the full amount they are legally entitled to and have instead continued relying on a minimum allowable benefit—equal to only $158 per week in Virginia.
“Back in April, I urged the Department of Labor to take the lead on national technological solutions to relieve the burden on overwhelmed state unemployment agencies. Today, nearly eight months later, we are learning that states inundated with claims have been unable to consistently report accurate information on the number of people receiving unemployment benefits. We also continue to see states paying PUA claimants based on a paltry minimum benefit rather than the full amount they deserve.
“These shortcomings have real-world implications: less money in the pockets of struggling people and less reliable information for policymakers seeking to make informed decisions about how best to help them. What remains clear is that millions and millions of people are relying on the federal government to get this right. The Department of Labor needs to step up to the plate and better support states. And Congress must act to extend these life-sustaining programs.”
In July, Sen. Warner introduced the Emergency Portable Benefits for Independent Workers Act, legislation to establish a $500 million emergency portable benefits fund to assist states with setting up a portable benefits program for independent workers. He is also the author of the Mixed Earner Pandemic Unemployment Assistance Act, legislation to help ensure Americans who earn a living through a mix of traditional (W-2) and independent employment income (1099) can fully access the financial relief made available under the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) Program. Earlier today, Sen. Warner led 30 Senate colleagues in a letter urging Senate leaders to include an extension of PUA and the Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PUEC) program, in the next COVID-19 relief package.