GOP Continues to Turn Its Back On The Unemployed
Efforts by the Senate to reach a compromise to extend unemployment insurance (UI) fell flat again today as Republicans voted against the 1.7 million Americans looking for work who have been cut off when the benefits lapsed in late December.
The bill, which fell a single vote short of the 60 needed to overcome a Republican filibuster, was a compromise on multiple accounts. First, it accommodated the Republican demand that it be reduced from a one-year to a three-month extension. Second, it was fully paid for–using an offset that Republicans have supported in the past and are currently considering in other legislation.
Now, to be fair, some Republicans aren’t just refusing to compromise–they would never vote to extend unemployment insurance in the first place. Yesterday, for example, Rep. Jeff Sessions (R-TX) said that “it is immoral for this country to have as a policy extending long-term unemployments (sic).” Two months ago, Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) stated that extending the benefits beyond the prescribed 26 weeks does a “disservice to these workers.” (We remind the Senator that they are not “workers,” they are looking for work–and that’s the whole point.)
Whether it’s a refusal to compromise no matter what the other side offers, or a misguided ideological opposition, these elected officials are hurting struggling families and the economy overall. The beneficiaries of extended unemployment insurance are not lazy; they are caught in an economy where there is only one job opening for every three job seekers. And they are contending with a job climate in which economists have shown that in the eyes of employers, being out of work for over nine months is the same as losing four years of job experience. State economies have lost an estimated $2.2 billion since the extension lapsed in late December.
BOTTOM LINE: Shame on Senate Republicans for once again refusing to extend unemployment insurance benefits. Not only are they denying a lifeline to millions of struggling families, they are hurting their own state economies to the tune of billions of dollars. That’s immoral–and irrational.