October 4, 2023

Delegation Urges MD to Apply for Rescue Plan Program

Coronavirus Relief Bills

Maryland’s congressional delegation is urging the Maryland Department of Labor to apply for a new program funded by the American Rescue Plan to improve the state’s unemployment insurance system, in the wake of the severe delays and errors encountered by tens of thousands of unemployed Marylanders amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Rep. Steny H. Hoyer‘s office announced.

The lawmakers’ offices have heard from thousands of their constituents who have struggled to receive their unemployment benefits from the Maryland Department of Labor.

According to the US Department of Labor, during 2020 and 2021 Maryland only disbursed 59.2% of initial payments for unemployment benefits within 21 days, below the national average of 65% for the same time period. Additionally, Maryland only resolved 24.3% of cases dealing with eligibility issues within 21 days, well below the national average of 51.1%.

In a letter, the lawmakers pressed Maryland Labor Secretary Tiffany Robinson to apply for the Unemployment Insurance (UI) Navigator Program, a new initiative recently launched by the US Department of Labor to support states’ efforts to provide better UI service for struggling workers and families. The lawmakers helped create this program through the passage of the American Rescue Plan to better assist Marylanders as they face the twin challenges of the pandemic’s health and economic harms.

As they note in the letter, the American Rescue Plan has already delivered $3,684,000 for Maryland to combat UI fraud.

“As members of the Maryland congressional delegation, we write to urge you to apply for the Unemployment Insurance (UI) Navigator Program offered by the US Department of Labor to improve state unemployment insurance systems and delivery of benefits for the people of Maryland. This program is made possible by funding we supported in the American Rescue Plan Act to improve UI program administration, after the pandemic exposed severe problems with UI systems in Maryland and many other states across the country,” the lawmakers write.

“When unemployment soared during the pandemic, our offices heard from thousands of Marylanders in dire financial situations who were unable to access their unemployment benefits; and individuals from marginalized communities faced especially severe problems. The American Rescue Plan’s UI Navigator Program would help address those problems with up to $15 million in grants for state UI agencies to partner with community-based organizations that conduct outreach and assistance to help unemployed workers navigate the UI system,” they continued.

The full letter is available here.

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For more information about House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer, visit his Leader member page.

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