Bennet, Colorado Delegation Urge Rapid Federal Guidance for CARES Act Unemployment Insurance Implementation

Members Seek Guidance From Treasury and Labor Departments for Enacting Unemployment Assistance Program

Denver —Today, Colorado U.S. Senator Michael Bennet and the entire Colorado Congressional Delegation, sent a letter to U.S. Department of the Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and U.S. Department of Labor Secretary Eugene Scalia requesting urgent and comprehensive guidance for implementation of unemployment insurance programs related to the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act. 

Citing anticipated delays predicted by Colorado unemployment officials for individuals who don’t already qualify for state unemployment benefits, the letter urges immediate and comprehensive guidance from the federal government so that states can provide this critical assistance to the continuously growing population of unemployed seeking financial support.

The letter cites the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) Program as an aspect of CARES Act relief that needs immediate guidance. This program provides unemployment benefits to individuals who do not qualify for regular unemployment compensation, including workers in gig economies and those who are self-employed.

“We are seeing unprecedented job loss in Colorado and across the nation, and people who are hurting need immediate relief,” wrote Bennet and his colleagues. “States need comprehensive guidance from the federal government as to how we can get this relief to our constituents as quickly as possible. Any delay places even more hardship on people who are suffering immense financial loss. There’s simply no time to waste.” 

The text of the letter is available HERE and below. 

Dear Secretary Mnuchin and Secretary Scalia:

Thank you for your continuing efforts to provide critical and necessary support to America’s working families during this exceptionally challenging time. 

As the administration works to implement the Unemployment Insurance-related programs, as part of the recently enacted Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, we urge the Treasury Department and the Department of Labor (DOL) to quickly release comprehensive guidance to states on implementation so that Colorado can quickly disseminate benefits to workers who do not already qualify for state unemployment insurance. 

In the span of two weeks, the American economy has witnessed unprecedented loss in our job market, with first-time claims for unemployment surging more than 3,000 percent since early March. A critical component of the CARES Act is the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) Program, designed to provide unemployment insurance to self-employed individuals and gig-economy workers who normally are not eligible for unemployment assistance. 

We are hearing from Colorado unemployment officials that expanding the program to those individuals who are not normally eligible will likely take weeks. With record-breaking unemployment claims and with many Coloradans experiencing substantial economic loss, there is simply no time to waste. We urge you to issue comprehensive guidance to states as quickly as possible so that Colorado unemployment officials can provide Coloradans with this critical source of assistance. It is vital that individuals who are normally overlooked for this assistance, such as gig workers and the selfemployed, do not slip through the cracks. 

Thank you again for your efforts and we hope you swiftly address this issue.