Disaster Relief for Workers: Legislative Update
By Joan Crigger
October 22, 2001
President's Plan for Second $20 billion of Emergency Supplemental
The President has told Congress how he plans to use the balance of the $40 billion supplemental which was enacted immediately after the September 11 terrorist attacks. Twenty billion remains to be spent with the bulk of the money to go to Defense. The plan would provide $2 billion for worker assistance although there are currently no specifics on how the funds would be used.
Worker Assistance Legislation
The various proposals to provide assistance for workers who have been laid off from their jobs since the September 11 tragedy still have not moved forward in the legislative process. It is expected that some component or components of these proposals will be included in any economic stimulus package that is passed. Below are several of the current proposals:
The Senator Jean Carnahan (MO) legislation, S. 1454 (the Displaced Workers Act) has been stalled since a scaled down version was defeated when it was proposed as an amendment to the Senate aviation security bill (S.1447). The bill as originally written would provide $3.7 billion for aviation industry workers laid off due to the September 11 attacks.
There is still no action on the proposal developed by Senator Edward M. Kennedy (MA), which would provide $2 billion for Department of Labor job training programs, an expansion of unemployment benefits to part-time and temporary workers, extended unemployment insurance, and health insurance coverage to laid- off workers.
The House Republican stimulus package currently under discussion has no provision for worker relief, while the Democratic plan would set aside about $30 to $35 billion to expand and extend unemployment benefits and subsidize the cost of providing displaced workers with continued health insurance coverage.
The President's proposal which was introduced by Virginia Senators George Allen and John Warner would provide $3 billion for extended unemployment insurance benefits for workers in states that have been declared disaster areas and for other states where the unemployment rate has increased by at least 30 percent since September 11.
FY 2002 Labor Appropriations
There has been no movement for final passage in the Senate of the Labor, Health and Human Services and Education FY 2002 appropriations bill.
FY 2003 Appropriations Youth Opportunity Grants
Conference of Mayors staff has learned that funding for the Youth Opportunity Grants may be in jeopardy in FY 2003 with cuts anywhere from 50 to 80 percent, because of heavy spending on Defense. The Youth Opportunity (YO) grants are matching grants funded for five years through the U.S. Department of Labor, to 25 cities and 10 rural areas, to provide in depth job training and jobs for out-of-school youth who live in economically depressed areas. FY 2003 would be the fourth year of the grants. The Conference is working with mayors' staff to develop a strategy to ensure continued funding. For information, please contact Conference staff member Joan Crigger at (202)861-6726.