From the AFL-CIO NOW blog, news that now Orin Hatch has joined in preventing a vote on extending unemployment benefits. Shame on every member of the m
October 20, 2009

From the AFL-CIO NOW blog, news that now Orin Hatch has joined in preventing a vote on extending unemployment benefits. Shame on every member of the media that doesn't hammer them on preventing the unemployed from getting this much-needed help:

Because of the actions of two Republican senators, every day this month 7,000 jobless workers have lost their unemployment insurance (UI) coverage. Each day these two Republicans continue to stand in the way of Senate passage of a UI extension, 7,000 more workers will run out of benefits.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) has tried twice to bring the UI measure to a vote on the Senate floor. First Sen. Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.), then Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) blocked action.

Christine Owens, executive director for the National Employment Law Project (NELP), says workers are “devastated” by the Republican roadblock. Unemployed workers across the country are devastated and dismayed by the failure of the U.S. Senate to extend their lifeline. Every day, 7,000 additional workers are facing the total loss of benefits, in many cases after struggling to find work for more than a year and a half.

The official unemployment rate now is 9.8 percent, while the number of those who have given up looking for work or are underemployed stands at an appalling 26 million workers.

Click here to tell the Senate it’s time to pass an extension of UI benefits.

In September, the House overwhelmingly passed a UI extension that called for an additional 13 weeks of (UI) for jobless workers in high unemployment states (more than 8.5 percent) who have exhausted their benefits without finding new work.

Last week, the AFL-CIO urged the Senate to approve legislation that provides 14 weeks of benefits to all jobless workers who can’t find new work and an additional six weeks for those in high unemployment states.

Says AFL-CIO Government Affairs Director William Samuel: Failure to extend benefits would pull the safety net out from under laid-off workers who are struggling to find jobs that have become increasingly scarce…a record 5 million workers have been unemployed for six months or more and there are now six unemployed workers for every available job in the United States.

NELP estimates 400,000 workers exhausted their benefits in September and without any extension, another 1.3 million will run out of benefits by year’s end.

Says Owens: "It’s shameful and callous. Because the Senate has not acted, hundreds of thousands of workers are languishing without any means to support their families in the midst of the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression. It’s time for the Senate to do right by the families hardest hit by the recession—the Senate needs to do whatever it takes, working weekends included, to make this happen."

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