Unemployed Americans Protest On Capitol Hill, Calling On GOP Senators To Stop Blocking The Jobs Act

ThinkProgress filed this report from the Hart Senate Office Building in Washington, DC

Republicans have continually slammed President Obama’s jobs plan, the American Jobs Act, as a second stimulus plan that won’t work — ignoring the success of the first stimulus and sticking to their own “job creating” policies that have, in the past, failed to boost job creation and economic growth. And last night, Republicans and two Democrats successfully blocked the Jobs Act from coming to the floor for debate, despite it winning majority approval from the full Senate.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has led the charge against the Jobs Act and did so again yesterday, saying on the Senate floor that Republicans welcomed the chance to vote against it. But while McConnell was leading his party’s obfuscation, a coalition of grassroots organizations brought unemployed Washington residents to the Hart Senate Office Building to urge lawmakers to pass the Jobs Act.

The Rev. Paul Sherry held a prayer vigil among the groups in Hart’s atrium, where he and others spoke out about the need for the Jobs Act. “It is time, long past time, to rebuild our nation’s economy in the interest of justice, and compassion, and fairness for all our nation’s people, rather than a favored few,” Sherry said. “The American Jobs Act does all those things.”


The prayer vigil was followed by testimonials from multiple unemployed District residents. “I feel useless, I don’t have anything to do,” a tearful Linda Evans told the crowd of about 50. Evans, an unemployed home health assistant, has been out of that field for three years and recently lost her job working with children. “We are the people,” she said. “And we need jobs.”

Andre Henson, an unemployed 23-year-old who said he has applied for dozens of jobs over the last year, said he was tired of hearing lawmakers talk about how hard it is for the unemployed. “They talk about it, and I live it,” he said. “I live it every single day. Lying in bed asleep at night, wondering how I’m going to provide for my daughter. We helped the congressmen and senators get in office, and it’s time for them to help us.”

Watch video of McConnell’s criticism of the bill and from the gathering yesterday:

From there, the participants broke into smaller groups and went upstairs, visiting offices of senators who had pledged to oppose the bill. In office after office, staffers told the unemployed that they would relay their stories on to the senators, and a staffer in Sen. Mark Kirk’s (R-IL) office reminded them, rather flippantly, “It’s definitely tough times.”


But hours later, the Republican caucus stood uniformly against the Jobs Act, blocking it from coming to the floor for a vote it likely would have passed.