Senate Advances Unemployment Benefits, Obama Pushes Congressional Passage

The bill will bring back unemployment benefits for 1.3 million Americans that expired on December 28 and extend them for three months.

President Obama is joined by a group of unemployed people. One of them speaks before the president begins, talking about the sacrifices she has made while unemployed, but on how essential the benefits are while she looks for a new job. A heartbreaking story that makes it clear just how heartless those in Congress are who are stonewalling (*cough, John Boehner, cough*) on the benefits.

President Obama began by talking about economic growth and how the deficit has shrunk by half during his time in office

After saying that he's pleased Congress started to unwind the sequester, President Obama says extending unemployment benefits should be the first priority of Congress in 2014. He makes it clear the the benefits are a crucial lifeline for people who lost work through no fault of their own and haven't yet been able to find a new job.

Six Republican senators joined with Democrats on Tuesday morningto extend unemployment insurance, making it likely that Obama's first piece of legislation of 2014 will take place. New Hampshire’s Kelly Ayotte, Indiana’s Dan Coats, Maine’s Susan Collins, Nevada’s Dean Heller, Alaska’s Lisa Murkowski, and Ohio’s Rob Portman all voted for the extension. Heller and Collins had both thrown their support behind the bill earlier, but Ayotte and Coats came as a last-minute surprise. The bill will bring back unemployment benefits for 1.3 million Americans that expired on December 28 and extend them for three months.

But, there's a kink in the plan, GOP House Speaker John Boehner:

"But House Speaker John Boehner said he told President Barack Obama a month ago that another extension of temporary emergency unemployment benefits "should not only be paid for but include something to help put people back to work. To date, the president has offered no such plan. If he does, I'll be happy to discuss it, but right now the House is going to remain focused on growing the economy and giving America's unemployed the independence that only comes from finding a good job."

The unemployment aid advanced by the Senate, as drafted, the would restore between 14 weeks and 47 weeks of benefits averaging $256 weekly to an estimated 1.3 million long-term jobless who were affected when the program expired Dec. 28. Without action by Congress, thousands more each week would feel the impact as their state-funded benefits expire, generally after 26 weeks.


About Diane Sweet

Diane Sweet's picture
Senior Editor, Lives in a gerrymandered district in Michigan.

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