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Joseph K.

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  • Economy Priority Number One

    by Representative Joseph P. Kennedy III

    Posted on 2014-01-14

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    KENNEDY asked and was given permission to address the House for 1 minute and to revise and extend his remarks.) Mr. KENNEDY. Mr. Speaker, I rise today to advocate for the 1.3 million Americans and their families who have been hit hardest by this recession. Affording the most basic necessities--food, transportation, rent, and health care--just got even harder. Their needs are not extravagant. The benefits of unemployment insurance are not a blank check. They are a modest lifeline for families who are in need of desperate help over the holidays and in a cold winter.

    Since Congress has failed to act, over 60,000 residents of Massachusetts have lost access to these benefits. If we fail to do so, 140,000 more residents of our State are in jeopardy. At a time when the State's overall jobless rate is around 7 percent, and rises to 12 or 13 percent in some of our most challenged communities, to not extend these benefits today is wrong.

    My colleagues that are blocking this bill will tell you they are concerned with the number of people accessing these benefits. Well, you know what? So am I, and cutting those benefits off today is wrong.

    The funding that we seek today is an essential lifeline for these individuals at a time when we need to be expanding workforce development programs, workforce training programs, community colleges, vocational schools, and STEM education. We have to support our small businesses, an economic engine for so many American communities. I am in support of transportation upgrades, investments in infrastructure, and affordable housing.

    While there is a whole lot we should be working on right now, getting our economy going again and getting people back up should be priority number one.


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