Washington, DC—Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Senators Jack Reed and Debbie Stabenow joined Labor Secretary Hilda Solis at a press conference this morning to call on Republicans to stop blocking unemployment benefits for millions of Americans. Democrats have tried to extend unemployment benefits several times over the last two months, but Republicans have blocked the bill every time.
“Thousands of Nevadans and millions of Americans are still looking for work, and we have a fundamental obligation to stand with these families so that they can make ends meet and help our economy recover,” said Senator Reid. “For those who question whether this is an emergency situation, they should talk to the Nevadans who I hear from every day who rely on this assistance to put food on the table and pay the bills while they look for work. I am hopeful that Republicans will finally understand the urgency of this crisis for millions of American families, and join our efforts to extend this assistance that our workers deserve.”
“As Secretary of Labor, I’ve traveled to places represented by both Democrats and Republicans. In every one of those town and cities, I’ve spoken with people who have lost their jobs through no fault of their own. They are in dire need of our help,” said Secretary Solis. “For many households with an unemployed worker, unemployment insurance is the only thing that allows them to keep paying the bills and supporting their families as they look for new employment. These Americans are counting on their leaders to stand with them. The clock is ticking, and partisanship must be put aside.”
“Temporarily extending unemployment benefits will help keep more families from bankruptcy and foreclosure. It boosts every state’s economy across the nation. Rhode Island receives around $30 million per month in federally-funded unemployment insurance benefits, creating roughly $57 million in local economic activity. Cutting that money off has and will continue to hurt communities and businesses,” said Senator Reed. “The federal government has never before declined to extend unemployment benefits as long as the unemployment rate was at least 7.4 percent nationally, and today it still hovers near double digits. We simply cannot afford to cut off this modest support to those who have been hit hardest by the financial crisis. I am hopeful that at least a handful of Republicans will step up and join us in setting politics aside to do the responsible thing and extend unemployment insurance.”
“Republicans claim they are looking out for our children and grandchildren, but they aren’t standing up for the children in my state,” said Senator Stabenow. “Every day, I hear from constituents whose children will go hungry, or become homeless, because Republicans continue to block benefits for people who have lost their jobs. Never in the history of our nation have we failed to provide unemployment benefits when so many people were out of work. Thousands of families in my state, and millions across the country, will lose everything if we don’t extend these benefits now. I hope my Republican colleagues will stop playing politics with this issue, and join us in passing an unemployment extension so families can continue to keep food on the table and a roof over their heads.”