Press Release

May 15, 2024
Cardin, Colleagues Urge Full Funding of Unemployment Insurance to Combat Fraud and Provide Benefits for Jobless Workers
The senators wrote, “We can’t expect the UI system to scale up overnight and function well in an economic downturn if we don’t provide strong, consistent annual funding—including during economic expansions.”

WASHINGTONU.S. Senators Ben Cardin and Chris Van Hollen (both D-Md.), along with their Senate colleagues, urged the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, HHS, Education, and Related Agencies to fully fund Unemployment Insurance (UI) administration based on President Joe Biden’s request in his Fiscal Year 2025 budget. 

Without robust funding, state workforce agencies will struggle to provide UI benefits for jobless workers, protect against fraud, and make long-term administrative improvements to prepare for future crises. In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, states faced significant challenges in distributing unemployment insurance, highlighting the need to increase funding for this critical program. 

In addition to Cardin and Van Hollen, the letter is signed by Senate Finance Committee Chair Ron Wyden, D-Ore., Senate Finance Committee Member Michael F. Bennet, D-Colo., Senator Jack Reed, D-R.I., Senators Tina Smith, D-Minn., Tom Carper, D-Del., Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., Edward J. Markey, D-Mass., Dick Durbin, D-Ill., Catherine Cortez Masto, D-Nev., Peter Welch, D-Vt., Alex Padilla, D-Calif., Mazie Hirono, D-Hawai’i, Bob Casey, D-Pa., Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., Jacky Rosen, D-Nev., Brian Schatz, D-Hawai’i, Bernie Sanders, D-Vt., Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, and Laphonza Butler, D-Calif.

The senators wrote, “When the COVID-19 pandemic hit in March 2020, state workforce agencies were completely overwhelmed with an unprecedented number of UI claims. Millions of workers were forced to wait months for their benefits and couldn’t even reach someone from their state agency on the phone to help. Part of the reason states were so unprepared to deal with this surge of claims was decades of underinvestment in UI administration. Because Congress has consistently failed to appropriate sufficient administrative funding for the program, the Department of Labor (DOL) is forced to allocate funding to states using outdated cost assumptions that don’t reflect the actual cost of administering UI, leaving state workforce agencies operating on shoestring budgets.”

The text of the letter is here.

A web version of this release is here.