Sen. Mark Pryor is floating the idea of requiring community service or public service in exchange for receiving extended unemployment benefits.
The Arkansas Democrat filed the proposal last week as an amendment to the jobless benefits extension measure pending on the Senate floor. The Pryor amendment would require individuals to perform public service each week in order to maintain their unemployment benefits, with several exceptions including those for illnesses and the need to care for children.
"Extended compensation, including any such compensation under a temporary program, shall not be payable to an individual for any week in which such individual does not perform at least 10 hours of public service," Pryor's amendment states.
The amendment would allow the Labor Department to provide for a delay in states where separate laws may be needed to bring about compliance. Otherwise, the new rules would take effect after six months.
Pryor's proposal is just one of a number of amendments filed by senators on both sides of the aisle without a chance for consideration unless Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., and Republicans come to an as yet elusive amendment agreement.
"If my Republican colleagues can't take yes for an answer – if they insist on swamping this important measure with extraneous, political amendments, it will be clear they never wanted to extend unemployment insurance in the first place," Reid said. "But if Republicans are serious about offering relevant amendments to strengthen and improve this bill, I am more than willing to allow votes on those amendments."
Reid added that he would not permit a barrage of "political show votes."
Of course, what constitutes a "show vote" is in the eye of the beholder.
See the legislative text of the Pryor amendment here:
At the end, add the following: SEC. 7. REQUIREMENT FOR PARTICIPATION IN PUBLIC SERVICE AS A CONDITION FOR RECEIPT OF EXTENDED UNEMPLOYMENT BENEFITS. (a) In General.--Section 3304 of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 (relating to approval of State unemployment compensation laws) is amended-- (1) in subsection (a)-- (A) in paragraph (18), by striking ``and'' at the end; (B) by redesignating paragraph (19) as paragraph (20); and (C) by inserting after paragraph (18) the following new paragraph: ``(19) extended compensation, including any such compensation under a temporary program, shall not be payable to an individual for any week in which such individual does not perform at least 10 hours of public service (as described in subsection (g)); and''; and (2) by adding at the end the following new subsection: ``(g) Public Service.-- ``(1) In general.--For purposes of subsection (a)(19), the term `public service' means unpaid service by an individual to a Federal, State, or local agency (as permitted in accordance with applicable Federal, State, and local law), with tangible evidence to be provided to the State agency by the individual on a weekly basis demonstrating that the individual has performed such service during the previous week. ``(2) Exceptions.--For purposes of the public service requirement under subsection (a)(19), an individual shall be deemed to have satisfied such requirement for that week if the individual-- ``(A) provides tangible evidence to the State agency demonstrating that such individual was unable to perform the required public service for that week due to an illness or family emergency; ``(B) is a parent of a qualifying child (as defined in section 152(c)) and provides tangible evidence to the State agency demonstrating an inability to perform the required number of hours of public service due to responsibility for child care; or ``(C) provides tangible evidence of a bona fide attempt to perform public service and, pursuant to such criteria as is determined appropriate by the State agency, is determined to be unable to perform such service due to a lack of available public service opportunities in the area in which the individual resides. ``(3) Performance of work activities.-- ``(A) In general.--The total number of hours of public service required under subsection (a)(19) shall be reduced by 1 hour for each hour during that week that an individual performs work activities. ``(B) Definition of work activities.--For purposes of subparagraph (A), the term `work activities' has the same meaning as provided under subsection (d) of section 407 of the Social Security Act, except that such activities shall not include job searching, as described in paragraph (6) of such subsection.''. (b) Effective Date.-- (1) In general.--Except as provided in paragraph (2), the amendments made by this section shall take effect on the date that is 6 months after the date of the enactment of this Act. (2) Delay permitted if state legislation required.--In the case of a State which the Secretary of Labor determines requires State legislation (other than legislation appropriating funds) in order for the State law to meet the additional requirements imposed by the amendments made by subsection (a), the State law shall not be regarded as failing to comply with the requirements of section 3304(a)(19) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, as added by such amendments, solely on the basis of the failure of the State law to meet such additional requirements before the 1st day of the 1st calendar quarter beginning after the close of the 1st regular session of the State legislature that begins after the date of the enactment of this Act. For purposes of the previous sentence, in the case of a State that has a 2- year legislative session, each year of such session shall be deemed to be a separate regular session of the State legislature.