Emergency Unemployment Benefits Extension Clears First Hurdle in the Senate
by Jessica Schieder, 3/28/2014
Yesterday afternoon, the Senate voted to move forward with a bill to extend emergency unemployment compensation to the long-term unemployed. The bill would provide retroactive benefits for unemployed workers cut off from emergency unemployment benefits and extend the program for two months, until June 1st.
A bipartisan group of 65 senators, including 10 Republicans, agreed to allow the extension to go to final vote in the Senate, where the measure is now widely expected to pass early next week.
Over the course of the past week, the Center for Effective Government has been busy visiting the offices of 23 senators to deliver, in person, the stories we have received from our readers. For each office, we separated out stories from the senator’s constituents while also presenting a collection of the stories we’ve received nationally. (Note: All stories are anonymized before being distributed.)
It was inspiring to hear the phones ringing off the hook in every office I visited, as constituents from all over the country were urging their representatives to push the unemployment benefits extension forward.
I was visiting the office of Sen. Mark Kirk (R-IL) on Capitol Hill when yesterday’s vote took place. Kirk was one of the 10 Republican senators who has shown a willingness to work across the political aisle to get things done. In a statement earlier this month, Kirk said:
Illinois has one of the highest unemployment rates in the country, and it has been a priority of mine to find a financially responsible and commonsense way to extend unemployment benefits for those in need of them…This is an issue that is affecting thousands of citizens, and I strongly urge my colleagues across the aisle to support this responsible legislation.
The 65 senators who voted yesterday to move the emergency unemployment benefits extension forward included:
Ayotte (R-NH), Baldwin (D-WI), Begich (D-AK), Bennet (D-CO), Blumenthal (D-CT), Booker (D-NJ), Boxer (D-CA), Brown (D-OH), Cantwell (D-WA), Cardin (D-MD), Carper (D-DE), Casey (D-PA), Coats (R-IN), Collins (R-ME), Coons (D-DE), Corker (R-TN), Donnelly (D-IN), Durbin (D-IL), Feinstein (D-CA), Franken (D-MN), Gillibrand (D-NY), Hagan (D-NC), Harkin (D-IA), Heinrich (D-NM), Heitkamp (D-ND), Heller (R-NV), Hirono (D-HI), Johnson (D-SD), Johnson (R-WI), Kaine (D-VA), King (I-ME), Kirk (R-IL), Klobuchar (D-MN), Landrieu (D-LA), Leahy (D-VT), Levin (D-MI), Manchin (D-WV), Markey (D-MA), McCaskill (D-MO), Menendez (D-NJ), Merkley (D-OR), Mikulski (D-MD), Murkowski (R-AK), Murphy (D-CT), Murray (D-WA), Nelson (D-FL), Portman (R-OH), Pryor (D-AR), Reed (D-RI), Reid (D-NV), Rockefeller (D-WV), Sanders (I-VT), Schatz (D-HI), Schumer (D-NY), Shaheen (D-NH), Stabenow (D-MI), Tester (D-MT), Toomey (R-PA), Udall (D-CO), Udall (D-NM), Walsh (D-MT), Warner (D-VA), Warren (D-MA), Whitehouse (D-RI), and Wyden (D-OR).
Thank these senators for supporting a vote on extending emergency unemployment benefits and urge them to continue their support in the final vote next week.
Once the bill passes the Senate, it will move to the House where its future is less clear. While it is important to acknowledge the importance of yesterday’s vote, much work remains to be done, including staying organized to continue fighting for the millions of unemployed Americans still looking for work.
The following are resources to make sure politicians continue to hear your voice on emergency unemployment compensation (EUC):
- Thank the senators who have fought so hard to extend emergency unemployment benefits by looking up their contact information here. Let them know extending the emergency unemployment compensation (EUC) program still makes a difference, and you are still watching.
- Urge your representative to support the unemployment extension when the issue comes up in the House by entering your zip code here. You’ll be directed to a letter put together by the Half in Ten campaign.
- Call your representative using this number, provided by the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees (AFSCME): 877-363-6141.
- Share your story via our web form here, which we will share with representatives and journalists to highlight the urgency of renewing unemployment insurance.
- Join our Google Group to share stories and resources with others who are either unemployed or passionate about the issue.
- Stay in touch with the Center for Effective Government by signing up for our e-mail updates and action alerts here.
- Find links to the Center for Effective Government's recent blog posts on unemployment insurance here.
For Further Reading:
Emergency Unemployment Benefits Are Not Forgotten, The Fine Print blog, Feb. 26, 2014
Emergency Unemployment Benefits: Ways to Take Action, The Fine Print blog, March 6, 2014
Emergency Unemployment Benefits: Time to Petition the Government, The Fine Print blog, March 12, 2014
Emergency Unemployment Benefits: Compromise in the Senate, The Fine Print blog, March 14, 2014
Emergency Unemployment Benefits: Boehner Signals Reluctance in the House, The Fine Printblog, March 21, 2014
Emergency Unemployment Benefits Extension Clears First Hurdle in the Senate, The Fine Printblog, March 28, 2014
Extending Emergency Unemployment: Senate Finally Expected to Vote to Extend Benefits and Rush through Corporate Tax Cuts, The Fine Print blog, April 2, 2014
Emergency Unemployment Benefits Bill Passes the Senate, Increasing Pressure on the House, The Fine Print blog, April 8, 2014
Stories of Americans Cut Off of Emergency Unemployment Compensation, Government Matters, April 22, 2014
Emergency Unemployment Extension Expected to Take Back Seat to Tax Extenders, The Fine Print blog, April 25, 2014