Nearly 1.3 million people wait for Congress to return to session, hoping our elected officials promptly vote to renew the emergency unemployment benefits, which expired last week after Congress left for the holiday recess without voting on the vital protection. Today, the Washington Post's The Plum Line notes that a UI extension "hangs in the balance."
Our elected officials are called to work on behalf of those they represent. Across the country, unemployed people are struggling to get by as finding work is a difficult task in an economy only favoring the wealthiest few. Elected officials have the moral responsibility to protect the safety nets and social contracts we value as a country, and as a society. Unfortunately some in Congress continue to turn even the most basic of protections into a political battle:
(Senator Jack Reed of Rhode Island) noted that a number of GOP Senators represent high unemployment states. If the 55 Dem-aligned Senators vote for an extension, which isn’t assured but is very likely, Dems need five Republicans.
The unemployment rate in Illinois (Senator Mark Kirk’s state) is 8.7 percent; in Tennessee (Bob Corker and Lamar Alexander) it’s 8.1 percent; in Arizona (John McCain and Jeff Flake) it’s 7.9 percent; in Georgia (Saxby Chambliss and Johnny Isakson) it’s 7.7 percent; in Ohio (Rob Portman) it’s 7.4 percent; and in Pennsylvania (Pat Toomey) it’s 7.3 percent. In many of those states, tens of thousands of people have already been cut off, according to stats compiled by Ways and Means Dems.
Reed said many who have lost benefits are “desperate,” and said he thought other Senators understood this. “Many of them are middle aged, have worked for a long time, and have found that it’s difficult to find jobs,” Reed said.
We all need to stand with those struggling to get by. Call your representatives TODAY and tell them to extend emergency unemployment insurance. You can use the AFLCIO's Congressional hotline to get in touch with your representative today: 877-318-0483.