To the Senate: Time to Stop Playing Politics and Pass Unemployment Benefits Extension

Jul 20, 2010

By Elizabeth Lower-Basch

The U.S. Senate is expected to vote this afternoon whether to extend unemployment benefits for millions of people struggling to find jobs. More than 2.5 million Americans have lost unemployment benefits since June due to the Senate's failure to pass an extension, and the number grows by 50,000 every day.

With overall unemployment remaining persistently high and long-term unemployment at its highest level since the Bureau of Labor Statistics began keeping track, lawmakers must put politics aside and provide this much-needed relief to people struggling to make ends meet.

Throughout June, the Senate continually delayed voting on an unemployment benefits extension due to political wrangling over its costs. Republicans blocked the measure from coming to the floor for a vote.  But public opinion isn't on their side. A Washington Post / ABC News poll from last week shows a solid majority of voters support extending benefits up to 99 weeks for out-of-work Americans.

Speaking Monday morning from the Rose Garden, President Obama joined the growing number of voices - including CLASP - urging senators to do right by the nation's workers and pass this critical unemployment insurance legislation.

While it is disappointing that the bill that will be passed today does not include other critical provisions, such as the continuation of increased federal funding for Medicaid and child welfare, and the extension of the TANF Emergency Fund, the unemployment insurance extension is critical.  In these tough times, too many families are struggling.  Unemployed workers and their families need unemployment benefits to make ends meet and put food on the table while they search for permanent employment.

This afternoon the Senate should do what's right for struggling workers. They should heed the public will and vote to extend unemployment insurance benefits.

 

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