Congressional Democrats Urge McCrory to Veto Bill that Would Disrupt Employment Benefits for Thousands of North Carolinians

Feb 14, 2013
Press Release

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, North Carolina Representatives G. K. Butterfield (NC-01), David Price (NC-04), and Mel Watt (NC-12) sent a letter to North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory strongly urging that he veto House Bill 4, a bill that would block funding of federal emergency unemployment benefits to hundreds of thousands of North Carolinians.

In their letter, the congressmen wrote, “As members of North Carolina’s Congressional Delegation, we do not routinely express our views on legislation presented to the Governor.  However, the serious threat to 170,000 unemployed and displaced workers in North Carolina posed by House Bill 4, as well as the direct conflict it creates with federal policy, compel us to do so.  We urge you in the strongest possible terms to reject this economically and socially costly measure.”

Last month, as part of the fiscal cliff deal, Congress passed an extension through January 1, 2014 for the federal Emergency Unemployment Compensation Program (EUC08).  EUC08 gives assistance to the long-term unemployed by providing federal unemployment benefits after state benefits are exhausted, and under the condition that states maintain their current benefits for the unemployed.  However, House Bill 4 seeks to cut spending on the state’s unemployment insurance program, which will have a disastrous effect on those who need help the most.

The members explained:

“Enacting House Bill 4 would force the long-term unemployed to forfeit $780 million in needed benefits made available by federal law.  The dramatic reductions to the state’s unemployment program under this bill, which includes plans to cut the maximum weekly benefits from $535 to $350, to reduce the number of benefit weeks from 26 to 20, and to eliminate benefits for veterans who separate from employment for military service-related disabilities, would make North Carolina ineligible for any EUC08 benefits.  Moreover, eliminating this important safety net for jobless residents would cost North Carolina’s economy $1.5 billion in economic activity at a time when we cannot afford to drive business away. 

“Due to the severe burden this bill would place on jobless North Carolinians, and the regressive impact it would create on our state’s economy, we strongly urge you to veto this deeply flawed and shortsighted legislation.”

The full text of the letter is attached.