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House GOP sinks unemployment extension

By Josh Richman
Wednesday, June 11th, 2008 at 5:55 pm in General, George Miller, Jerry McNerney, John Boehner, Nancy Pelosi, U.S. House.

The Emergency Extended Unemployment Compensation Act, a bill that would have immediately provided up to 13 weeks of extended unemployment benefits to jobless workers in every state, was defeated today on the House floor with a 279-144 vote (short of the two-thirds necessary under suspension of the rules), with all “nays” cast by Republicans.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-San Francisco, said Democrats would bring back the legislation to the floor under a regular rule. But that’s not all she said:

“Today Congress had an opportunity to take swift action to help millions of our fellow Americans who are struggling to find work in the slowing economy. Last week’s increase in the unemployment rate – the highest in 20 years — demands that Congress act swiftly. The number of long-term unemployed Americans is higher now than when Congress last extended unemployment benefits in 2002.

“A majority of House Republicans instead decided to support President Bush’s veto threat against extending unemployment benefits – despite the fact that it will help 3.8 million Americans and stimulate the entire economy.

“Our work is not done and we will bring this bill back to the House floor tomorrow under a regular rule to ensure that this critical legislation arrives at the President’s desk as soon as possible.”

Said House Education & Labor Committee Chairman George Miller, D-Martinez:

“To the Republican members of Congress who live in a Washington bubble, it might seem like everything is fine with the U.S. economy right now. But to American workers, we’re in a recession. Over 300,000 American workers have lost their jobs since the start of the year, and there are 8.5 million workers who want a job but don’t have one. Making matters worse, workers and their families must cope with rising energy and food costs and the fallout from the housing crisis.

“For laid-off workers, the paychecks stop coming, but someone still has to put gas in the car to drive to school and church and run errands. Paycheck or no paycheck, someone still has to buy groceries, and someone still has to pay the mortgage. House Republicans apparently don’t care about any of that. They apparently don’t believe that workers who lose their jobs through no fault of their own deserve some help making ends meet while they look for new employment. And they apparently don’t understand that helping workers also helps the economy by injecting demand into it.

“With the unemployment rate rising quickly, there are many American families who need this assistance. Democrats in Congress will not stop pushing until workers get the help they need in these difficult times. It is the right thing to do for workers and it’s the smart thing to do for the economy.”

And said Rep. Jerry McNerney, D-Pleasanton: “It’s clear our economy is in trouble. As prices for gas, food and other necessities continue to rise and the economy contracts, providing a temporary extension of unemployment benefits for Americans who have lost their jobs is the right thing to do.”

But, House Minority Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio, responded:

“Let me thank my colleague from Illinois for yielding time and make clear that I want to vote for a bill that extends unemployment benefits to those who have been laid off in areas where we have high unemployment. But the bill before us is not targeted at states where we’ve seen a spike in unemployment. We’ve got an unemployment rate in Oklahoma, as an example, of about 2.6 percent or maybe you could go to, I think it’s South Dakota, where the unemployment rate is about 2.4 percent. Yet, under this bill, it’s a federal mandate – one-size-fits-all for all 50 states. And I just think that if we’re going to be serious about spending taxpayer money, we ought to target that money to those areas where we have high unemployment and where people need our help.

“The bill also eliminates the requirement that individuals put in at least 20 weeks of work to collect extended unemployment benefits. And when this was put into the law, when we extended this law in 2002, almost all the Democrat members voted to do this. And what it means is that some people could work as little as two weeks, two weeks, and receive up to 52 weeks of unemployment benefits and I don’t think that’s neither reasonable nor is it a good use of limited taxpayer resources.

“I’m open to extending unemployment benefits, but I think this bill that we have before us falls far short of what we need to do. It’s neither fair to unemployed workers who truly need our help, nor to taxpayers who are going to fund it. I think we can do better and before we send the final version of this bill to the President, I hope that we will do better. And I hope we will work in a bipartisan way to come to an agreement, to extend unemployment benefits in a reasonable, responsible way. But in the meantime, this bill is not the answer and I would urge my colleagues to vote no.”

UPDATE @ 1:15 P.M. THURSDAY: House Democrats brought the bill forth again today, and this time it passed on a veto-proof, bipartisan vote of 274 to 137.

Said Pelosi: “All Americans are feeling real, serious, and deep economic pain. Yet President Bush has issued a veto threat against this legislation – despite the fact that it will help 3.8 million Americans and in fact, the entire economy. I urge the President to reconsider his veto threat and stand with hard-working Americans, just as he did in 2002.”

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  • Mark LaVally

    I am really having a Hard time Understanding the Republicans defeating this bill. Have they really Lost it??? We are in this mess because of them and they do not want help the unemployed??? Thats Tragic.. Wake up Republicans!!!

  • Patrick McNulty

    What has happened to the Republican party that once was? Extending the unemployment benefits would, (1) It will keep monies flowing within the system, which is needed to help people to continue to pay mortgages, buy food, pay bills, etc. (2) If the extension takes effect soon benefit payout’s will be added to 2009 income tax gross, which will increase the amount the of tax the IRS will collect for 2009 and also increase income tax revenue to all 50 states, in other words there will be a return that will greatly lower the initial payout costs of extending unemployment benefits. (3) Lets not forget that is was the taxpayer that bailed out Bear Sterns an investment firm, not a bank and indirectly JP Morgan, a bank, the reason little to almost no government regulation which they are trying to put together now. (4) This will allow the unemployed to continue to look for work while the government looks at all options to lower fuel prices and restoring confidence in our economy. (5) It is the right humanitarian thing to do. On last note, the Republicans want there war money for Iraq and who pays for that? We the people.

  • Pamela

    Let’s face it all that voted “NO” have money to pay their bills, go out to eat and go on vacations and want for nothing. Let them walk a mile in someone’s shoes who is unemployed to know what it feel like to not know where their next meal is going to come from or if they are going to have enough money to pay next month’s bills.

    UNLESS YOU ARE UNEMPLOYED YOU HAVE NO IDEA HOW HARD IT IS TO SUPPORT YOUR FAMILY. I’M DOWN TO MY LAST UNEMPLOYMENT CHECK, I’VE APPLIED TO OVER 150 JOBS SINCE MARCH OF THIS YEAR AND NOT ONE INTERVIEW. TELL ME, WHEN MY FAMILY IS WITH NO DINNER WHERE WILL YOU BE HAVING YOURS? THIS IS WHY THERE ARE SO MANY AMERICANS WHO WILL NOT VOTE. WHY BOTHER? WHY SHOULD WE HELP OUR GOVERMENT WHEN OUR GOVERMENT WILL NOT HELP US.

    OH YEAH, BIG DEAL SO THEY SENT US STIMULIS CHECKS. WHAT TO KNOW WHERE MINE WENT….STRIGHT TO BILLS. HOWS THAT FOR ENJOYING EXTRA MONEY. AND I’M SURE I’M NOT THE ONLY AMERICAN WHO PUT THAT EXTRA MONEY TO BILLS. WHAT ELSE ARE YOU SUPPOSE TO DO WHEN YOUR UNEMPLOYED. TAKE THE MONEY AND RUN TO THE NEAREST WAL-MART??

  • Reality

    Everyone must never ever forget those who voted to screw the American Unemployed They get paid from YOUR tax dollars so FIRE each and everyone of them when they are up for re-election

  • Reality

    they approved this week millions for NASA to put another another man on the moon withing 10 years BUT said that American unemployed taxpayers and voters do not deserve anything