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 WydenA Democratic plan to wipe out independent contractors Biden pushes back at Democrats on taxes Want a clean energy future? Look to the tax code 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 BrownSenate advances Biden consumer bureau pick after panel logjam Centrist state lawmaker enters Ohio GOP Senate primary The Trojan Horse of protectionism MORE (D-Ohio), Mark WarnerMark Robert WarnerDemocrats confront 'Rubik's cube on steroids' Advocates call on top Democrats for 0B in housing investments Democrats draw red lines in spending fight MORE (D-Va.) and Catherine Cortez MastoCatherine Marie Cortez MastoFormer Sen. Heller to run for Nevada governor Top Hispanic group endorses Cortez Masto for reelection Conservation group says it will only endorse Democrats who support .5T spending plan 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.