March 25, 2020

Third Coronavirus Funding Package Includes Hirono-Backed Unemployment Assistance Expansion

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Senator Mazie K. Hirono (D-Hawaii) announced today that she successfully secured a major expansion of unemployment assistance in the third emergency coronavirus stimulus package. The package, which is the product of intense bipartisan negotiations, includes Senator Hirono’s Pandemic Unemployment Assistance Act – legislation she introduced with Senators Gary Peters (D-Mich.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), and Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.).

Senator Hirono’s bill expands unemployment benefits for up to 39 weeks for workers who have run out of state unemployment benefits, small business owners, freelance workers, independent contractors, seasonal workers, or Americans who just started a job or were about to start work.

“The difficult actions states like Hawaii are taking to combat COVID-19 are necessary and essential to slow the spread of the pandemic, but they are also having significant consequences for workers and families across our state,” said Senator Hirono. “These expanded unemployment insurance provisions will provide crucial certainty to workers in Hawaii and across the country that they will be able to continue to pay their bills and feed their families. I will continue to fight to put workers, families, and vulnerable communities first as we confront the coronavirus pandemic.”

The legislation is the first of its kind, as Congress has not previously extended unemployment benefits following a public health crisis. The benefits in the bill will help a wide range of Americans who are experiencing consequences of the coronavirus, including:

-       People who have coronavirus

-       Those who have been exposed to coronavirus or need to self-quarantine

-       People who are caring for someone who has coronavirus

-       Those whose employers are closed because of the pandemic, who cannot reach work because of a quarantine, or who are working limited hours because of COVID-19

-       People who are caring for a child because of school closures

In addition to Senators Hirono, Peters, Wyden, and Schumer, the legislation was also cosponsored by Senators Jack Reed (D-R.I.), Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Ed Markey (D-Mass.), Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Jon Tester (D-Mont.), Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), Sherrod Brown, (D-Ohio), Tim Kaine (D-Va.), Tammy Baldwin, (D-Wis.), Chris Van Hollen, (D-Md.), Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), Cory Booker, (D-N.J.), Bob Casey (D-Pa.), Jeanne Shaheen, (D-N.H.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.), and Mark Warner (D-Va.).