Millions Lose Unemployment Benefits Due to Senate Impasse

Jun 30, 2010

By Elizabeth Lower-Basch

In an attempt to move forward in spite of Senate Republicans filibuster of a critically important jobs bill, the U.S. House of Representatives on July 1 passed emergency legislation to restore unemployment insurance benefits to millions of workers.

This comes after the Senate repeatedly failed to act on either a broader jobs creation bill or a stand-alone unemployment insurance extension.  Now the Senate has adjourned for its July 4 recess and there is no guarantee it will bring the bill to a vote when it returns.

Due to lawmakers' inaction, more than 1.7 million people will have their unemployment benefits cut off by July 3. By July 10, that number will reach more than 2.1 million and will only go higher.

The House-passed bill, the Restoration of Emergency Unemployment Insurance Compensation Act, would retroactively reinstate unemployment insurance to these workers. The House introduced this bill after senators repeatedly failed to agree on a more comprehensive jobs bill, which included critical provisions to stimulate the economy and aid low-income families who have been hardest hit by the recent economic downturn.

It is deeply disappointing the Senate failed to pass the larger jobs bill, the American Jobs and Closing Tax Loopholes Act of 2010 (See CLASP's summary of that bill). Besides extending unemployment insurance benefits, this more comprehensive bill would have extended the TANF Emergency Fund for another year, funded summer jobs for youth, increased the share of Medicaid and child welfare costs paid by the federal government (FMAP).   

Without these measures, state governments will cut spending on critical social services and risk undermining the fragile economic recovery.  Congress should find another vehicle to move these needed provisions as soon as they return.



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