Utah Rep. John Curtis says millionaires shouldn’t receive unemployment benefits

(Rick Egan | Tribune file photo) Congressman John Curtis, R-Utah, speaks at Thanksgiving Point on April 5, 2019.

Rep. John Curtis, R-Utah, wants to prevent millionaires from collecting unemployment insurance, at least during the pandemic.

He and Rep. John Joyce, R-Pa., introduced the Returning Inappropriate Cash Handouts (RICH) Act on Friday to bar anyone with an income of $1 million or more this year from receiving such payments.

He said the Labor Department currently prohibits state unemployment programs from denying unemployment claims by a person who lost a job even if the individual receives income from multiple sources. In 2017, that led to more more than 2,500 people with incomes over $1 million drawing unemployment insurance benefits.

“With unemployment levels at a record high, local economies across the country are working tirelessly to reopen the safest way possible to help get Americans back to work,” Curtis said. “In the meantime, our goal should be to deliver targeted aid to those who desperately need it and we need to draw the line someplace. That’s what our bill seeks to do.”

Joyce said, “Millionaires shouldn’t be profiting on the backs of American taxpayers.”

Extra payments of $600 per week in emergency federal unemployment insurance payments expired last week. Republicans and Democrats have been deadlocked this week in negotiations about how and whether to extend those payments and other COVID-19 aid.

Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, has introduced similar legislation in the Senate.