House Democrats Push To Prevent ‘Heartless’ Expiration Of Unemployment Insurance

Without an extension, two million workers will lose their federal unemployment benefits in 2013, despite long-term unemployment still hovering at record highs. President Obama’s offers to avert the so-called “fiscal cliff” have included a new extension of federal benefits, but Republican proposals have not done the same.

According to The Hill, House Democrats are starting to agitate for an full extension:

Senior House Democrats insist they won’t leave Washington until Congress extends jobless benefits for the long-term unemployed.

Rep. Sandy Levin (D-Mich.), the House Ways and Means Committee ranking member, said Tuesday that he is determined to see a yearlong extension passed before the benefits expire on Dec. 29.

Levin said he would refuse to accept a reduction in the number of weeks or any other trade-off as part of an extension.

“I think it’s heartless to talk about a further reduction,” he said.

A majority of Senate Democrats have also signaled support for an extension. Without an extension, only one quarter of the unemployed will have access to unemployment insurance next year, as Sarah Ayres showed:

As Ayres noted, “Congress has never allowed emergency unemployment benefits to expire when the unemployment rate was above 7.2 percent. The unemployment rate today is 7.7 percent.”