Emergency Unemployment Benefits Bill Passes the Senate, Increasing Pressure on the House
by Jessica Schieder, 4/8/2014
The Senate voted to extend the emergency unemployment compensation program yesterday evening in order to support more than 2 million unemployed Americans as they get back on their feet. (See how your senator voted here.)
The emergency unemployment compensation (EUC) program expired in late December, despite record high long-term unemployment and a difficult job market. For every job opening, there are nearly three unemployed workers actively trying to find employment.
The bill must now be passed by the House of Representatives before the president – who has been clear about his support for the bill – can sign it. Leadership in the House has threatened to prolong any movement on the unemployment extension until after their recess, which begins this Friday and ends on the 28th of April.
Speaking yesterday morning before the passage of the bill, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) criticized Republican support for “the cause of the persecuted multibillionaires.”
Reid’s office was one of the many to have received our packets of stories from the long-term unemployed. On the floor of the Senate, he shared one of those stories, contrasting the struggles of a single mother from Las Vegas with the Koch brothers’ powerful corporate hand in Washington politics:
What about the dignity of a single mother from Las Vegas, Christina, who is stuck living in her elderly grandmother’s living room because she and her son were evicted when Christina’s benefits were cut off? Perhaps Charles and David Koch should spend their nights sharing one air mattress, as Christina and her son do, and see what dignity there is living as Christina and her boy do. The Koch brothers want Americans to be dignified as they lose their cars and homes and security.
Supporting the unemployed and their families as they actively search for employment is crucial. Christina’s story is just one of the more than 750 stories we’ve received. Here is a selection of additional quotes from our readers across the country struggling to find employment:
- El Cerrito, California: "I have four kids and a wife. I have been having a hard time getting money to help support the family. I had scheduled a state test to get certified as a water distribution operator but could not take the test because the check I sent bounced. I did not think that the whole extension system was going to be canceled… I am now days from not having a place for my family. I have been applying on the Internet and walking to places that are close since I lost my car."
- Denver, Colorado: "After serving in the Army, I began a 15-year career in the hotel industry. I worked my way up from a front desk employee to General Manager of the hotel. After spending the last 10 years as GM, I found myself unemployed due to financial setbacks the hotel was experiencing. I was laid off 30 days after purchasing a home for my family. I have diligently applied for all kinds of jobs, networked and have recruiters searching for a job for me as well. I am open to any industry. But my state benefits have expired and my family is now struggling to pay our house payment and I can't even manage to find a lower-level job because I am 'overqualified'."
- Green, Ohio: "Next week will be my last unemployment payment. I have worked for 30 years and am only 47. I have two college degrees. Either I am too qualified and don't [get] hired or I don't have the right experience. How can there be a debate about this insurance that I need and so many others? Without this insurance, I will not be able to keep up with my house payment and other bills. Very scary times. I am faced with losing my home and many other ramifications. I have some money saved, but it won't last long. I have applied for hundreds of positions and have had a few interviews but not one job offer. I could wallpaper a room with all my rejection letters."
- Bordentown, New Jersey: "I am a resident of New Jersey and a Union Carpenter employed for approximately five months during the spring and summer of 2013. We have twin boys, age 11, and lost our unemployment benefits in Dec. 2013. After actively seeking a job with benefits without success, our family can no longer afford essential necessities such as food, clothing, and insurance. After exhausting one unemployment claim opened in September, we can no longer sustain expenses and are looking for assistance from family and our credit cards at a high interest rate. We are praying that the extension will go through to help [with] our family basics and medical expenses for my wife. We have both worked over 30 years and cannot receive benefits that we have earned in our time of need. Our family can no longer sustain after three months of no income from me, a husband and father that wants to provide for his family and take care of his sick wife."
The Center for Effective Government will continue hand-delivering these stories from our readers to congressional offices. To share your story please click on the button below.
Sharing your story with us is only one way to make sure the House allows the emergency unemployment extension to come up for a vote. 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Share your story via our web form here, which we will share with representatives and journalists to highlight the urgency of renewing unemployment insurance.
- Find links to the Center for Effective Government's recent blog posts on unemployment insurance by clicking on the button below:
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
****UPDATE: Emergency Unemployment Extension Expected to Take Back Seat to Tax Extenders, The Fine Print blog, April 25, 2014****