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article imageU.S. Senate proposes 14-week unemployment extension

By Jay David Murphy     Oct 9, 2009 in Politics
Two million Americans are facing a termination of unemployment benefits by the end of the year and Senate Democrats are racing to get a proposal done to extend benefits before the clock strikes midnight.
On Thursday, Nevada Senator Harry Reid, Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus and Senators Jack Reed and Jeanne Shaheen introduced a comprehensive proposal to extend unemployment insurance up to an additional 14 weeks for the jobless in all 50 states. Right now, two million out-of-work Americans are facing the expiration of benefits by the end of the year.
The legislation will also extend benefits for an additional six weeks in states with unemployment levels over 8.5 percent. This proposal is fully paid for by extending the Federal Unemployment Tax through June 30, 2011.
Senator Harry Reid expressed his concerns for the unemployed in an email communication. He was very focused on those in the hardest-hit areas of the country, including Nevada where statewide unemployment reached 13 percent in September. The Senator also encouraged Senate Republicans to join in on the proposal.
Senator Baucus said, “As of last month, 15 million unemployed Americans were competing for three million available jobs. Too many Americans are unemployed right now, and states are struggling to pick up the slack.”
Senator Reid added, “People who have spent their whole lives working hard are struggling to find jobs amidst the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression. Helping these families stay afloat is not a partisan issue. It is an urgent national issue that demands action now.”
Senator Shaheen also commented, “Unemployed workers use these benefits to buy essentials and pay the bills. Extending unemployment benefits is one of the most effective actions we can take to stimulate the economy.”
The proposal includes a modification to the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act to allow families receiving the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or food stamps, to remain eligible while receiving an additional $25 per week in unemployment insurance benefits.
This bill would also update the Unemployment Insurance Modernization provision in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act to allow victims off sexual assault who have left their job to be eligible for benefits under the “compelling family reasons” cause. Additionally, the legislation specifies railroad workers facing expiring unemployment benefits would be eligible for additional weeks.
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