August 10,  2020

Washington, DC — Congressman John Curtis (R-UT) and Congressman John Joyce, M.D. (R-PA) introduced the Returning Inappropriate Cash Handouts (RICH) Act, which prohibits certain individuals from receiving temporary federal unemployment benefits authorized during the COVID-19 pandemic. The legislation specifically bars individuals with an income this year that exceeds $1 million from accessing these funds. Companion legislation was introduced in the Senate by Senate Republican Caucus Vice Chair, Senator Joni Ernst (R-IA).

“These are some of the most difficult times in our nation’s history. With unemployment levels at a record high, local economies across the country are working tirelessly to reopen in the safest way possible to help get Americans back to work,” said Curtis. “In the meantime, our goal should be to deliver targeted aid to those who desperately need it and we need to draw the line someplace. That’s what our bill seeks to do.”

“Congress acted decisively to deliver targeted assistance to the hardworking Americans who are struggling as we combat the coronavirus crisis,” said Joyce. “Millionaires shouldn’t be profiting on the backs of American taxpayers. The RICH Act will ensure that coronavirus relief reaches the American workers who need it most. I’m proud to work with Congressman Curtis to protect our workers and steward Americans’ tax dollars responsibly, and I thank Senator Ernst for championing this effort in the Senate.”

Background

The US Department of Labor currently prohibits state unemployment programs from denying unemployment claims to a person who lost a job even if the individual receives income from multiple sources. This led to over 2,500 individuals with incomes of over $1 million receiving unemployment insurance benefits in Tax Year 2017 alone and at a time when the national unemployment average reached historic lows.

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act temporarily authorized the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation program, which offered an additional $600 per week in federal unemployment payments to millions of Americans who recently lost their jobs as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. This means that potentially thousands of individuals with incomes of greater than $1 million this year could have received these payments on top of the state unemployment benefits.

The bill would protect both those who need the benefits the most and the American taxpayers from these inappropriate payments by requiring all those seeking the federal unemployment benefit to certify that their income this year does not exceed $1 million.

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