On Monday, the House recess ends, and representatives will be returning to Washington.
Before the recess, the Senate passed legislation to extend the Emergency Unemployment Compensation (EUC) program, supporting the retroactive extension of assistance to job-seekers who are struggling to find employment in a rough job market. In theory, representatives have spent the last two weeks in their home districts interacting with and getting feedback from their constituents, including on long-term unemployment insurance.
While the House was out, we learned a few new facts about the health of the middle class and the opportunities available to working Americans, all of which support the argument that working Americans are facing real challenges in getting ahead.
- The American middle class is no longer the world’s richest. Increases in American middle-class income have failed to grow at the pace seen in other countries, and poorer Americans are even worse off when compared internationally. After-tax middle-class incomes are now highest in Canada, and other countries such as Norway and the Netherlands are catching up.
- Working Americans are vulnerable. Forty-three percent of Americans say that if they were out of work for a month, they would encounter significant financial hardship.
- The number of the long-term unemployed has remained unchanged at approximately 3.7 million. These individuals, who are defined as those who have been jobless for more than 27 weeks, account for 35.8 percent of the total number of Americans who are unemployed, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Given these statistics and the ongoing hardships millions of Americans are facing every day, one would think that the House would be poised to act on the EUC extension with a sense of urgency.
So what do we know about the House’s schedule for the next week?
As politicians return to Washington on Monday, leadership in the House of Representatives has the ability to bring the extension of emergency unemployment compensation to the floor for a vote. The benefits would assist more than 2.5 million Americans who are actively looking for jobs but are unable to find them in a rough job market.
But Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) is unlikely to bring the bill to the floor. While speaking to an audience after the Senate passed a bill to extend the EUC program, Boehner insisted that a new proposal be brought forward. Essentially, he told the Senate to start over. He also echoed previous comments that the package must be paid for (it is) and insisted that it include “things that would help get our economy moving” (without the bill’s passage, 240,000 jobs could be lost). Sen. Dean Heller (R-NV) and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) are reportedly planning to meet with Boehner to discuss the bill.
So what legislation will the House be working on next week?
Tax extenders. An expensive collection of tax give-aways that overwhelmingly benefit corporations is expected to be the first matter of business for the House on Tuesday. These tax breaks include incentives for corporations to move profits and jobs overseas. Included in this package is the “GE Loophole,” which helped General Electric – a household name in the United States – to avoid paying taxes on $27.5 billion in profits between 2008 and 2012 by moving profits offshore.
The House majority seems more than willing to extend a helping hand to corporations, whose profits are at all-time highs, but for working families, House leadership continues to deliberately delay and obstruct needed assistance.
The following are resources to make sure politicians continue to hear your voice on emergency unemployment compensation (EUC):
- 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 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
Technically Speaking: Making Sense of Discharge Petitions, Cloture and Filibusters, The Fine Print blog, May 5, 2014
Unemployed Americans Kicked Out of Capitol, Forced to Share Their Stories Outside, The Fine Print, May 10, 2014
Six Months after Emergency Unemployment Benefits Expired, 2.8 Million Americans Left Behind, The Fine Print, May 20, 2014
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