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U.S. Senator Joni Ernst (R-IA), known as the Senate’s leading foe of wasteful government spending, is pushing to kick millionaires off a new, taxpayer-funded $600 unemployment benefit during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Every day, essential workers are putting their lives at risk to care for our families and keep our country running amidst COVID-19. Meanwhile, every week, the federal government may be doling out as much as $2 million to millionaires not to work,” said Senator Joni Ernst. “Out-of-work millionaires are getting these bonus benefits from the pockets of hardworking taxpayers. We need to fix this, we need to do it now, and that’s exactly what my bill does.”


Under Ernst’s new bill, the Returning Inappropriate Cash Handouts (RICH) Act, anyone who lost a job during COVID-19 but is still earning $1 million or more this year would be barred from receiving the $600 weekly unemployment bonus and denied eligibility for the new expanded unemployment coverage provided by the CARES Act. The bill could save as much as $2 million every week.

The RICH Act does not change the eligibility or amount paid by the traditional unemployment insurance entitlement program that every worker contributes to as part of payroll taxes. Applicants for unemployment coverage are currently asked to provide certain documentation, including job history. The RICH Act would simply ask those seeking unemployment compensation to certify that their income this year is not $1 million or more, and the federal government would be granted the authority to audit the certifications.


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