Perhaps taking a page from the Montana playbook, a couple of republicans in Congress have drafted a federal back-to-work bill that seeks to address the current labor shortage on a national level. Idaho Senators Mike Crapo and Jim Reisch along with Representative Kevin Brady (R-TX8) have filed the Reopening America by Supporting Workers and Businesses Act of 2021 in both the House and the Senate. The legislation would provide time limited bonuses for currently unemployed individuals that can be verified as going back to work ($1200 for full-time work or $600 for part-time positions) and making less than $75,000. As presently drafted, the bonuses would be available through July 1, 2021. In addition, the legislation also accelerates scheduled increase in funding for Reemployment Services and Eligibility Assessments (RESEA) and expands the pool of eligible workers to include those receiving benefits through CARES Act programs, including Pandemic Unemployment Assistance. And finally, it would reinstate the federal work search requirement for unemployment payments. Last March in light of the pandemic, Congress allowed states the flexibility to waive the job search requirement and 32 states still have a waiver in place. Before we get too excited about this creative approach to the current labor shortage, realize that the legislation has no democrat sponsors at this point, so it’s not likely to go anywhere. Furthermore, Commerce Secretary (and former RI governor) Gina Raimondo joined Vice President Harris at a woman’s business roundtable in Rhode Island yesterday and advocated that the current $300 unemployment premium be retained at least through Labor Day, September 6, 2021!