June 25, 2010
Legislation which would have restored long-term unemployment benefits to those who have exhausted aid was voted down by Senate Republicans yesterday.
According to the Los Angeles Times, the Labor Department estimates that more than 1.2 million long-term unemployed will have lost benefits by the end of this week. The Associated Press quotes another dire statistic: Because the legislation was not passed, more than 200,000 people a week will lose unemployment benefits.
Yesterday's vote was the third time that the Senate tried to pass a measure to extend unemployment benefits. The latest version of the $110 billion bill would have also provided tax breaks for businesses and $16 billion in aid for states. But the 57-41 vote left Democrats just three votes short needed to end debate and bring the bill to a final vote.
"If there were ever evidence that this is the party of no, this is it," said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), who was quoted by the Los Angeles Times.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) defended the GOP position, noting that the legislation-- which would have added about $30 billion to the national debt--was simply too high a price to pay. "The only thing Republicans have opposed in this debate are job-killing taxes and adding to the national debt," he was quoted as saying by Kiplinger.com.
Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said in a statement that the White House would continue to push for the legislation to be passed. "The president has been clear," he remarked. "Americans should not fall victim to Republican obstruction at a time of great economic challenge for our nation's families."
Meanwhile, jobless workers about to see their unemployment benefits expire are becoming increasingly anxious. "People have already been taking jobs they never would have taken before the recession," pointed out Deborah Schlick, executive director of the St. Paul, Minnesota-based Affirmative Options Coalition, who was interviewed by TwinCities.com. "Some people will deplete their savings. Some already have."
Now that the benefits are running out, she said, "many, many more people will be in even more desperate circumstances."
Compiled by Yaffa Klugerman
"A Loss of Benefits Looms, Anxiety Grows for Jobless Minnesotans," TwinCities.com, June 25, 2010, Julie Forster
"Senate GOP Blocks Jobless Aid Extension," latimes.com, June 25, 2010, Janet Hook and Noam N. Levey
"Stymied by GOP, Democrats at Loss on Jobs Agenda," Associated Press, June 25, 2010, Stephen Ohlemacher
"Unemployment Extension Stymied Once Again," Kiplinger.com, June 25, 2010