WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, on Wednesday introduced a new bill 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,” Ernst said. “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.”

Ernst’s new bill, the Returning Inappropriate Cash Handouts (RICH) Act, bars anyone who lost a job during COVID-19 but is still earning $1 million or more this year from receiving the $600 weekly unemployment bonus and denied eligibility for the new expanded unemployment coverage provided by theCARES 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 specific documentation, including job history. The RICH Act would ask those seeking unemployment compensation to certify that their income this year is not $1 million or more. The federal government would be granted the authority to audit the certifications.

On Tuesday, Ernst called on her colleagues to focus on relief related to the COVID-19 pandemic and denounced the House Democrats’ $3 trillion package as a partisan wish list full of unrelated items, including perks for wealthy coastal elites. Ernst said that she would continue working across the aisle on relief to help Iowa’s workers, businesses, farmers, health care providers, and families on the front lines of COVID-19.

Watch Ernst’s remarks from Tuesday:

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