Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) is calling for the extension of enhanced federal unemployment insurance through 2022.
In an attempt to provide economic relief to Americans during COVID-19 and the lockdown-induced recession, Congress funded several new federal unemployment programs, through which millions of Americans received a weekly $300 check on top of state unemployment handouts.
Although the federal payments expired on Labor Day, Ocasio-Cortez’s bill would lengthen unemployed Americans’ ability to reap the aid through February 1, 2022 — and retroactively give payouts for the weeks after September 6.
“I’ve been very disappointed on both sides of the aisle that we’ve just simply allowed pandemic unemployment assistance to completely lapse when we are clearly not fully recovered from the cost effects of the pandemic,” Ocasio-Cortez said during a virtual town hall. “I simply could not allow this to happen without at least trying.”
Despite the progressive lawmaker’s concerns, the United States currently has more jobs open than unemployed workers. According to data from the Department of Labor, the number of positions available in the United States rose to 10.1 million as of June — the highest number ever observed by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Meanwhile, there are 8.7 million Americans searching for work.
Some studies have indicated that significant portions of Americans who received COVID-era unemployment aid turned down jobs in order to continue reaping the handouts.
In one poll, Morning Consult found that 13% — roughly one in eight — said that they had refused job offers while unemployed because they “receive enough money from unemployment insurance without having to work.” Since 14.1 million adults were collecting benefits at the time of the survey, Morning Consult determined that approximately 1.8 million Americans turned down positions due to the enhanced payments.
Ocasio-Cortez was recently mocked for wearing a designer dress emblazoned with “Tax The Rich” to the Met Gala — where tickets cost as much as $30,000.
Following the event, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) rebuked the thirty-one-year-old lawmaker during an interview with Fox News — and also noted that she could have used campaign funds to pay for the event, which would constitute an ethics breach.
“I’m not quite sure as a member of Congress how you legally can go there,” McCarthy told Fox News. “You can’t accept a ticket so I’m not sure how that works.”
“She’s the leader of the Democratic Party,” McCarthy added. “And think about it. She doesn’t call herself a Democrat. She calls herself a socialist Democrat.”