Unemployment Benefits: Legislative Issues in the 107th Congress Page: 4 of 6
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Several bills were considered to extend the TEUC benefits. S. 2714 and H.R. 5089
would have extended the first tier of TEUC benefits to equal the lesser of the number of
weeks an individual received under regular UC or 26 times the individual's average
weekly benefit amount. S. 2892, S. 3009 and H.R. 5491 would have provided all eligible
TEUC recipients with 26 weeks of first tier benefits, would have reduced the TEUC-X
benefits (second tier) in high-unemployment states to 7 weeks, and would have extended
the program until June 30, 2003. H.R. 5587 would have extended the TEUC program for
high unemployment states and allow individuals already entitled to TEUC benefits on
December 28, 2002, to receive their full benefit entitlement.
On November 14, 2002, the Senate passed an amended version of H.R. 3529 which
would have extended TEUC through March 31, 2003. On the same day, the House passed
H.R. 5063, which would have continued benefits until February 2, 2003, for workers
eligible for TEUC or TEUC-X by December 28, 2002, and would have extended the
regular TEUC benefits only for workers in high unemployment states until February 2,
2003. However, no agreement was reached on these measures and the 107th Congress
adjourned November 22, 2002, without having passed an extension of the TEUC
program. The TEUC program expired on December 28, 2002.
Proposals to Reform Unemployment Compensation
In recent years, calls for reforming the UC program have emerged from various
interest groups, including labor, employers, and state employment agencies. These groups
argue that changes in the economy and the workforce since the program was enacted in
the 1930s have led to inefficiencies and inequities in the UC program that need to be
reformed. Today more women are in the workforce. They, and many new entrants into
the labor force are often employed in part-time, temporary or short-term jobs that can
leave them ineligible for UC during periods of unemployment. Many see the declines in
UC recipiency as due, in part, to stricter state eligibility requirements related to earnings
minimums and reduced growth in manufacturing. Employers see inefficiencies in the
administration of the program, including complex tax forms, multiple tax filing
requirements, and complex record keeping requirements.
In the 107th Congress, H.R. 3024 would have provided for state collection of the
FUTA tax. The bill would have provided for interest premiums or penalties based on
whether states exceeded or failed to meet state funding goals during a quarter. States
would also have been provided interest-free advances to state accounts if they met their
funding goals. The bill would have also lowered the EB program trigger from 5% to 4%.
In addition, states would have been required to distribute state-specific information
packets to unemployed individuals that would explain UC eligibility requirements. H.R.
773, the Parity for Part-Time Workers Act, a bill of more limited scope, would have
expanded UC eligibility to part-time workers. As part of the FY 2003 budget request, the
Administration proposed several reforms to the UC program. These included gradually
shifting responsibility for financing the UC benefits and administration to states over a
5 year transition period; repealing the FUTA surtax as of January 1, 2003; and lowering
the IUR trigger in the permanent EB program from 5% to 4%.
H.R. 4373, introduced on April 16, 2002, would have expanded UC eligibility to
include certain part-time workers, workers who qualified for UC under an alternative
wage base period; certain seasonal workers; workers who left employment because of
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Unemployment Benefits: Legislative Issues in the 107th Congress, report, December 30, 2002; Washington D.C.. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc811874/m1/4/: accessed May 22, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.