This is a big step in the right direction, and it's something that would go a long way toward easing national insecurity (and not incidentally, expire after the midterms, leaving a possible Republican majority with a ticking time bomb):
With unemployment still hovering in double digits and no real relief in sight, a group of 30 Senate Democrats today is urging party leaders to extend emergency unemployment benefits through the end of 2010 — 10 months longer than current law dictates. In a letter to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.), the lawmakers argue that shorter extensions might be cheaper, but they leave state budgeters in a state of constant uncertainty.
Short term extensions, while still helpful to families, only add strain to state agencies that must constantly re-tool their computer systems, and at the same time, continue to assist the millions still searching for work. As our economy continues on a path to recovery, we need a robust extension of safety net programs that have provided a lifeline to families since the recession began.
Signing the letter were Democratic Sens. Tom Harkin (Iowa), Bob Casey (Pa.), Jack Reed (R.I.), Sherrod Brown (Ohio) , Chris Dodd (Conn.), Jay Rockefeller (W.Va.), Jeanne Shaheen (N.H.), Al Franken (Minn.), Carl Levin (Mich.), Frank Lautenberg (N.J.), Debbie Stabenow (Mich.), Roland Burris (Ill.), Arlen Specter (Pa.), John Kerry (Mass.), Kirsten Gillibrand (N.Y.), Ron Wyden (Ore.), Edward Kaufman (Del.), Sheldon Whitehouse (R.I.), Barbara Boxer (Calif.), Patrick Leahy (Vt.), Robert Menendez (N.J.), Herb Kohl (Wis.), Tom Udall (N.M.), Ben Cardin (Md.), Robert Byrd (W.Va.), Daniel Akaka (Hawaii), Jeff Merkley (Ore.), Barbara Mikulski (Md.), Dianne Feinstein (Calif.) and Michael Bennet (Colo.), as well as Independent Sen. Bernie Sanders (Vt.).
Democratic leaders are working on legislation to tackle the continuing problems related to the economic downturn. The package is widely expected to include an extension of unemployment insurance, COBRA health benefits, food stamps and help for states faced with budget crises. They’d hoped to have health care reform out of the way first. Now, that’s looking unlikely.