Urging the Republican Leadership to Pass Unemployment Assistance for the Long-Term Unemployedby Representative Danny K. Davis
Posted on 2014-01-09
DAVIS of Illinois. Mr. Speaker, as our Nation marks the
50th anniversary of the war on poverty this week, I rise to urge the
Republican leadership in the House of Representatives to immediately
extend unemployment assistance to the long-term unemployed workers who
continue to struggle to find jobs as our economy recovers from one of
the worst economic crises in its history.
The declaration of the war on poverty was a historic moment in our Nation's history when we affirmed our national priority to support those in need. The war on poverty helped reaffirm that our government has a responsibility to protect our citizens, especially during times of economic hardship. Providing support and economic opportunity creates a stronger citizenry and a stronger country.
In contrast, the expiration of the emergency unemployment program last month undermines the economic security of our citizens and of our Nation. The expiration of the emergency unemployment program cut off more than 1.3 million Americans from unemployment insurance, with approximately 72,000 additional Americans losing benefits each week during the first half of 2014.
In my home State of Illinois, where the unemployment rate remains high, at 9.2 percent, an estimated 82,000 Illinoisans lost benefits on December 28, with 38,000 of those citizens living in Cook County alone. An additional 89,100, or roughly 3,000 Illinoisans a week, will exhaust regular benefits without access to emergency benefits in just the first half of 2014.
Failing to help these citizens is an unacceptable failure of leadership. Failure to continue emergency unemployment benefits is not a theoretical issue for millions of Americans. It is a daily nightmare.
These Americans lost their jobs through no fault of their own. They tirelessly try to find work when the jobs are few and far between. They struggle to cover basic food, housing, and transportation costs for their families on an average of $290 a week, a pittance which typically replaces only half of the average family's expenditures. Failing to help these citizens is an unacceptable failure.
Failure to continue emergency unemployment benefits poses a realistic threat to our fragile economic recovery, costing over 200,000 much- needed jobs and restricting our economic growth. The expiration drained over $400 million from State economies. In Illinois alone, the loss of an average $313 in the weekly benefit means a negative impact of $25 million for our citizens.
Franklin Delano Roosevelt said, ``The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much; it is whether we provide enough for those who have little.'' Congress must act quickly to support our citizens and our economic recovery by continuing emergency unemployment benefits. The time to do it is now.