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Democrats introduce bill to fix unemployment systems technology

Democrats introduce bill to fix unemployment systems technology
© Greg Nash

Four Democratic Senators introduced a bill Wednesday aimed at revamping the technology powering the country’s unemployment insurance system.

The Unemployment Insurance Technology Modernization Act would seek to create standardized unemployment websites and features that states could choose to adopt.

The bill also calls for regular testing and servicing of unemployment systems and the establishment of a team at the Labor Department to help states with technological issues.

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The legislation comes after technical errors plagued the delivery of unemployment assistance to the millions of Americans who lost their jobs at the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic.

“While enhanced jobless benefits have enabled millions and millions of families to pay the rent and buy groceries, many states have been unable to get benefits out the door in a timely manner,” Sen. Ron WydenRonald (Ron) Lee WydenThe first Southern state legalizes marijuana — what it means nationally A bold fix for US international taxation of corporations Democrats offer competing tax ideas on Biden infrastructure MORE (D-Ore.), the chair of the Senate Finance Committee, said in a statement introducing the legislation. “That’s completely unacceptable when families are depending on these benefits to keep a roof over their heads.” 

The bill is also backed by Sens. Sherrod BrownSherrod Campbell BrownA bold fix for US international taxation of corporations Democrats offer competing tax ideas on Biden infrastructure Former Ohio health director won't run for Senate MORE (D-Ohio), Mark WarnerMark Robert WarnerA bold fix for US international taxation of corporations Democrats offer competing tax ideas on Biden infrastructure Five ways an obscure Senate ruling could change Washington MORE (D-Va.) and Catherine Cortez MastoCatherine Marie Cortez MastoTo encourage innovation, Congress should pass two bills protecting important R&D tax provision RNC rolls out ad campaign hitting Democrats over election reform Senators introduce bipartisan bill to expand electric vehicle charging tax credit MORE (D-Nev.).

The legislation includes a commitment to using cybersecurity best practices during the development of the new technology and seeks to avoid the use of algorithms to make potentially biased decisions on who qualifies for aid.