WASHINGTON – Today, Senator Mike Lee filed three amendments to a Senate bill being considered this week that would extend the time people have to collect unemployment insurance beyond six months.  The amendments continue Senator Lee’s push to enact solutions to problems in the Obama economy by focusing on job creation, accessibility of higher education and training, and improving work-life balance. 

The first amendment is modeled after Sen. Lee’s Transportation Empowerment Act (S. 1702) and would significantly reduce the administrative and regulatory burdens the federal government places on states’ use of transportation funding.  Under this proposal, states could respond more quickly to the needs of citizens, start and finish projects sooner, and spend less money to complete them – all while creating and maintaining good jobs. 

“Americans aren’t looking for unemployment insurance, they are looking for employment,” said Senator Lee. “The Democrats’ solution is to keep people tied to unemployment programs, rather than addressing the underlying problem.   My amendment would lift unnecessary burdens government imposes and give states and businesses the freedom to invest, grow, and hire more workers.”

The second amendment is built on Sen. Lee’s Higher Education Reform and Opportunity Act (S. 1904), legislation that would open up new educational opportunities for many low-income and non-traditional students.  The bill allows states to set up a new and parallel system for accrediting educational institutions, curricula, apprenticeships, programs, and even individual courses, which are then available to receive federal student loan money. 

“In today’s economy, employers need individuals with specialized skills,” said Senator Lee.  “But the current accreditation system – which drives up costs and leaves behind many non-traditional students, like working parents – acts as a barrier for millions of Americans who need the education and training to fill those jobs.  This amendment would make higher education and training more accessible and affordable to those who need it most.”

The third amendment is based on Sen. Lee’s Working Family Flexibility Act (S. 1623), which allows private-sector employees the same choice between comp time and overtime pay currently enjoyed by government employees.  Currently, federal law unfairly discriminates against these employees by prohibiting the use of comp time, forcing them to sacrifice family time for the family budget. 

“For many families, especially with young children, their most precious commodity is time,” said Sen. Lee. “But today, federal labor laws restrict the way moms and dads and everyone else can use their time. This can lead to tough decisions about how many hours parents can work, or even if they’re able to work at all.  My amendment would make that choice easier and help working families achieve the right balance.”