For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
October 4, 2001
The Back to Work Relief Package
The terrorist attacks of September 11 had a devastating and direct impact on our country. Unfortunately, these attacks continue to affect the lives of Americans who have lost their jobs because of the shock to our nation's economy. The airlines and related industries have already announced approximately 100,000 layoffs, and analysts predict that this number could grow. We must not let the terrorist attacks harm one of our country's most valuable resources -- its workforce.
In order to help protect the individuals and families whose livelihoods are threatened because of the economic consequences of these attacks, President Bush proposes to provide relief immediately to those who are hardest hit. The Bush Administration's proposal focuses on mitigating the financial impacts of the terrorist attacks on our workforce while helping the workers who have been permanently laid off get back to work as quickly as possible through training and job search assistance.
To strengthen the safety net for workers during this crisis, President Bush proposes:
Extending Unemployment Benefits
In some states, and in particular those states that were direct targets of the terrorist attacks on September 11, the economic consequences of September 11 may cause many Americans to lose their jobs and make it harder for them to get back to work quickly. Under current law, states provide a certain number of weeks of unemployment compensation (usually 26 weeks) to individuals who become unemployed.
To help ensure that Americans are able to continue to support themselves and their families during this time of recovery, the President proposes a new temporary Emergency Extended Unemployment Compensation Program. This program:
Providing $3 Billion in Special National Emergency
Grants for Income Support, Certain Health Care Premiums and Job Training
National Emergency Grants (NEGs) are federal grants administered by the Secretary of Labor, and they may be awarded to any state experiencing plant closings or mass layoffs. Currently, the grants may be used to support job training and reemployment services and to make certain limited payments to individuals enrolled in training. The grants also may be used to help pay for certain services, such as childcare and transportation, to help individuals complete training and transition back to work.
In some states, local regions and communities are suffering due to mass layoffs and plant closings caused by the September 11 tragedy. In order to provide assistance to these communities and populations, the President proposes temporarily expanding the National Emergency Grant program and providing $3 billion to assist dislocated workers during this recovery period. This emergency expansion will be maintained for 18 months.
Under this temporary expansion of the program, grants may be used by states to help ensure that dislocated workers: (i) maintain health insurance coverage; (ii) receive some form of income support during the recovery period; and (iii) return to the workforce as quickly as possible with the help of job training and job search assistance.
Specifically, under the program, states experiencing a major plant closure, mass layoff or multiple layoffs or dislocations are eligible for a special National Emergency Grant if the Governor of a state certifies that the events of September 11, 2001 contributed importantly to the closure, layoffs, or dislocations. Grants could be used by the states to:
Encouraging Americans to Take Advantage of Existing Services
For all Americans who suffer job loss, there continue to be many existing services to help them through this difficult time. The Department of Labor, in cooperation with the states, currently administers and helps fund several programs to assist Americans financially during times of unemployment and help them improve their skills and get back to work quickly. The President's FY 2002 budget included over $6 billion for these programs. Available services include:
Helping States Provide Health Insurance for Lower-Income Workers
and Their Families by Announcing the Availability of $11 Billion
in Unspent Funds
Currently, states can apply for expedited review of proposals to expand the health insurance coverage they offer through Medicaid and the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP). The Department of Health and Human Services is announcing that states have $11 billion in unspent S-CHIP match funds available immediately to support these expansions -- in addition to the $3.1 billion in SCHIP allocations for FY 2002.