In a letter today to Senate leaders, the National Association of Workforce Agencies – comprising the directors who administer state unemployment insurance programs – raised serious concerns about whether Senate legislation to extend emergency unemployment insurance is workable.  Of note, the letter says:

“The requirements in S. 2148 would cause considerable delays in the implementation of the program and increased administrative issues and costs. Some states have indicated they might decide such changes are not feasible in the short time available, and therefore would consider not signing the U.S. Department of Labor’s agreement to operate the program. A majority of states have said implementing the proposed legislation could take from one to three months.”

The letter (and accompanying fact sheet) outline the directors’ concerns that the Senate bill would be costly, difficult to administer, and difficult to determine an individual’s eligibility.  This could increase the likelihood of fraud and abuse.  The letter also makes clear that many states may opt to forego the opportunity to re-start the program because it could take three months to get it up and running – by which time the extension and thus the program would have again expired.  Bottom line:  the Senate bill is essentially unworkable. 

Speaker Boehner reacted to the letter with the following statement:

“The serious problems with the Senate legislation being noted by these state directors – the state employees charged with actually implementing the Senate unemployment insurance legislation if it were to become law – are cause for serious concern.  We have always said that we’re willing to look at extending emergency unemployment benefits again, if Washington Democrats can come up with a plan that is fiscally-responsible, and gets to the root of the problem by helping to create more private-sector jobs.  There is no evidence that the bill being rammed through the Senate by Leader Reid meets that test, and according to these state directors, the bill is also simply unworkable.  Frankly, a better use of the Senate’s time would be taking up and passing the dozens of House-passed jobs bills still awaiting action.”

The full text of the letter and fact sheet can be found here.