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  • The Congressional Progressive Caucus

    by Representative Lucille Roybal-Allard

    Posted on 2014-01-09

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    ROYBAL-ALLARD. I thank the gentleman for yielding, and I want to commend Congressman Pocan for his leadership and his hard work on this very, very important issue.

    Mr. Speaker, I rise in support of 1.4 million Americans who lost their emergency unemployment insurance during the holiday season and the millions of Americans who stand to lose their benefits in 2014 if Congress fails to extend unemployment insurance.

    It is an insult to the American worker to oppose the extension of these benefits on the premise that emergency unemployment insurance provides a disincentive to work and that it makes unemployed Americans content to live off of the taxpayer-supported benefits.

    The reality is, Mr. Speaker, that Americans have a strong work ethic and are the best and most productive in the world. And the reality is that in spite of their efforts to find employment. There are still 1.3 million fewer jobs today than there were when many of these Americans lost their jobs due to our country's economic downturn. It is unconscionable to punish those who lost their job through no fault of their own and continue to actively seek work.

    With nearly three job-seekers for every available position, American workers are unemployed not because they are not motivated to work, but because there are simply not enough jobs for everyone who needs one. This problem is magnified in my home State of California where there are 400,000 fewer jobs available today than there were 6 years ago.

    Unemployment benefits average $300 per week and replace less than 50 percent of prior earnings. Yet these benefits can make the difference between homelessness and hunger. They are often the only means of keeping a roof over one's head and putting food on the family table. For example, in 2012, unemployment benefits kept an estimated 2.5 million Americans, including 600,000 children, out of poverty.

    It is also worth noting that unemployment benefits do more than provide a critical lifeline for out-of-work Americans. It is estimated that each dollar of unemployment insurance generates $1.50 in new economic activity. This means our economy is losing $400 million every week Congress refuses to extend these benefits.

    The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office also estimates that the economy will lose 200,000 jobs if emergency unemployment insurance is not extended.

    Unemployment insurance is a moral imperative that will also keep our economic recovery moving in the right direction.

    Mr. Speaker, we are a country of hardworking Americans. We must not turn our backs on those who need this critical Federal assistance as they struggle to find work.

    {time} 1815 I strongly urge Speaker Boehner and Leader Cantor to schedule floor action on extending emergency unemployment insurance benefits without delay.

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