CPD Action calls on Speaker Pelosi and Majority Leader Schumer to ensure UI reform is included in the Build Back Better reconciliation plan

For Immediate Release
September 7, 2021


Statement issued by Jennifer Epps-Addison, co-executive director of the Center for Popular Democracy Action:

Today, the House Ways & Means Committee released a bill mark-up that includes historic investments in crucial family-sustaining programs, including paid leave and child care. Yet the committee, chaired by Rep. Richard Neal, ignored the need to invest in our notoriously underfunded, inequitable Unemployment Insurance (UI) system. Historic moments call for historic actions. It’s time for Congress to step up and ensure that every person in this country gets the support they need to not only survive this pandemic, but to thrive long term.

Congress has known for decades that our UI system does not adequately support workers or stabilize our economy during recessions. Chairman Neal was a member of Congress in 1996, when the Advisory Council on Unemployment Compensation identified a “pressing need” to reform UI to support workers during economic downturns. During the Great Recession, Congress had to enact temporary UI programs and extend them thirteen times because the Advisory Council’s recommended reforms were not adopted. Ways & Means members know what’s at stake: Rep. Stephanie Murphy, Rep. Terri Sewell, and Rep. Lloyd Doggett heard from devastated constituents when their governors cut off UI benefits early this summer — and nearly half of the people harmed by those early cut-offs were people of color. And just this week, 9.5 million working people lost their lifeline when Congress allowed pandemic unemployment benefits to expire — the largest benefit cliff in history — while unemployment rates in communities of color remain shockingly high. To pretend that we can “build back better” without tackling this broken and racist system is absurd.

Members of Unemployed Action and the CPD Action network have been pressing members of Congress for months to adopt urgent changes to stabilize UI and address deep racial disparities in benefits and eligibility. President Biden urged Chairman Neal to take up the issue of long-term UI reform as part of the reconciliation process — but today, the Ways & Means Committee ignored his call. Speaker Pelosi and Senator Schumer must step up and ensure meaningful UI reforms are included in this reconciliation package.



Center for Popular Democracy Action promotes equity, opportunity, and a dynamic democracy in partnership with innovative base-building organizations, organizing networks and alliances, and progressive unions across the country. CPD Action builds the strength and capacity of democratic organizations to envision and advance a pro-worker, pro-immigrant, racial justice agenda.


Together, we will grow our movement for a multiracial democracy and secure safety, dignity and liberation for all.