A picture of Representative Alan S. Lowenthal
Alan L.
Democrat CA 47

About Rep. Alan
  • Progressive Caucus: Opposition to the Trans-Pacific Partnership

    by Representative Alan S. Lowenthal

    Posted on 2014-01-15

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    LOWENTHAL. I thank the gentleman from Wisconsin for yielding to me.

    Mr. Speaker, I rise too in support of the 1.3 million Americans who have lost or will be losing their benefits by the callous efforts of this Congress not to extend unemployment benefits, especially for the long-term unemployed.

    As you pointed out, Congressman Pocan, as of December 28, over 1.3 million Americans have been kicked off [[Page H461]] unemployment insurance. We are talking about--and I am going to speak in a few minutes about the personal impacts of this--we are talking about family members, we are talking about friends, we are talking about people in each and every community of every Member, regardless of political affiliation in this Congress.

    {time} 1745 In my own community in the State of California, if we continue this callous effort not to extend unemployment benefits, we are looking at over 325,000 Californians losing their benefits in the next 6 months. Let's talk about jobs. People say that people should be working. If we do not extend unemployment insurance in my State, we are talking about the impact of the loss of over 240,000 jobs. This is a tragedy for our country.

    We are just coming out of the holiday season. It is really interesting, in the holiday season, at Christmastime, that there was a lack of compassion by the majority party in the House, which did not put up a bill to extend unemployment insurance. Congressman Pocan and I have looked at this.

    Coming up, the President of the United States is going to be talking about the state of the Union. There is nothing more important in the Union than having people be able to buy their food, to be able to feed their children, to be able to hold their heads up with dignity. So, last year, the House Democrats invited as their one guest people who were victims of gun violence.

    This year, Congressman, I applaud you for taking the lead, and I am so pleased to have joined you in a letter to ask Republicans and Democrats to use their one additional seat in order to bring them to Congress to let the President and the rest of the Nation hear about the stories and then put faces to those people who have lost their unemployment insurance, to see that these are people like our neighbors. That is who we are talking about. I urge all Members of Congress to bring a person who doesn't normally have a chance to impact our government, a person who has lost his unemployment insurance.

    I want to talk a little bit about some of the people in my community--letters, people I have met, people I have gone and talked to. I will just give two examples: I have a constituent who recently spoke to me about being 76 years of age and widowed. Her daughter is 52 and is a civil engineer, who has worked for many years at good jobs in the construction industry, building water treatment plants around the State of California. She was laid off 3 years ago and has not been able to find work since, even for jobs that pay much less; and she would be willing to take jobs that pay up to less than a third of her previous salary. After her unemployment checks ran out, she moved in with her mother, who wrote to me and spoke to me.

    She says: Luckily, when she and I were both employed, we bought this small house, and we worked diligently to pay it off. She--her daughter--has pretty much given up hope for another job, and I am somewhat crippled now. Between my Social Security and my savings, we survive. My point is that I am writing to you not to help us.

    She did not ask for any help. She said they are doing okay, but she knows that so many people in her community are not doing well, who are going through the same thing that she and her daughter have gone through, but they now don't have insurance to do that. She asked me-- she pleaded with me--to extend the benefits and to extend their unemployment checks; Another constituent wrote to me recently and said: I am 58 years of age. I am a telecommunication analyst. I was laid off in January of 2013. I have worked for over 30 years in this field. Now I need the government to help me through this rough time, and you and your peers are letting me down. I am running out of savings. I am soon to be homeless by the end of March if you don't do something. I am at a point that I would take any job available, but all I hear is either I am overqualified or I don't fit well into the job.

    I think we have to really hear this. This person pleaded: I am not a lazy person. I am out there, trying every single day to find a job. I would give up one of my fingers for a job just to take care of my family. Please keep fighting to help us out.

    Both of these stories tell us how we have a responsibility to help the women and the men and the families in our communities who are the foundations of our society and who are raising the next generation, who really are saying, I have worked hard. Please, at this tough time, don't abandon me. If we cannot provide adequate support for our families to make it through difficult times, they are asking us, if you are not here to help us, why are you in Congress? When we extend unemployment insurance, UI, the U.S. economy goes up, poverty goes down, and working families are protected. Now is not the time to turn our backs on the most vulnerable in our society.

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