February 9, 2024

Cassidy, Coons, Tillis, Kaine Introduce Bill to Expand Access to Reemployment Benefits for Out-of-Work Americans

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Bill Cassidy, M.D. (R-LA), Chris Coons (D-DE), Thom Tillis (R-NC), and Tim Kaine (D-VA) introduced legislation today to help more unemployed Americans reenter the workforce. The Building on Reemployment Improvements to Deliver Good Employment (BRIDGE) for Workers Act would give states more flexibility in administering existing reemployment benefits to help more Americans find good-paying jobs. 

“Let’s help people looking for work find work,” said Dr. Cassidy. “Making it easier to get a new and better job encourages work and benefits the families and benefits the country.”

“Today’s job market can be highly disruptive,” said Senator Coons. “A new technology or a shuttered factory can quickly put a hardworking American out of a job. Unemployment insurance is an earned benefit that provides much-needed support, but reemployment benefits often provide the extra boost needed to secure a new job. Meeting face-to-face with an expert who can identify good job opportunities and coach people through the hiring process can make all the difference, and the BRIDGE for Workers Act will allow states to offer that service to more workers.”

“This bipartisan bill will help Virginians find good-paying jobs and achieve economic stability. It’s a win for workers and economic growth,” said Senator Kaine.  

Expanding access to reemployment services—which include job search assistance, employability assessment, job matching, financial literacy services, and assistance with resume writing and interviewing—has proven highly successful. Early access to these services reduces the duration of laid-off workers’ unemployment, strengthening both the economic security of working families and the solvency of state unemployment trust funds.

The U.S. Department of Labor awards annual grants to states and territories so they can provide reemployment services to unemployment claimants and help them find work. Under current law, however, states can only use their federal grants to assist workers who are expected to exhaust their unemployment benefits before they find work. This unnecessary restriction prevents many unemployed workers from getting valuable assistance. The BRIDGE for Workers Act would remove this restriction and allow states to use their grants to provide support to any individual receiving unemployment benefits, as long as the state believes these services would help them return to work more quickly. The Congressional Budget Office estimates that new investments in reemployment services scheduled over the next decade would reduce the budget deficit by $600 million between 2022 and 2027.

The legislation is endorsed by the National Association of State Workforce Agencies (NASWA), the non-partisan national organization representing all 50 state workforce agencies, D.C., and U.S. territories.