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Progressive Caucus: Time to Renew Unemployment Insurance

WASHINGTON — Congressional Progressive Caucus Co-Chairs Reps. Raúl M. Grijalva (D-AZ) and Keith Ellison (D-MN), along with Progressive Caucus Members Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Reps. Xavier Becerra (D-CA), Andre Carson (D-IN), Matt Cartwright (D-PA), Judy Chu (D-CA), David Cicilline (D-RI), Yvette Clarke (D-NY), Steve Cohen (D-TN), John Conyers (D-MI), Peter DeFazio (D-OR), Rosa DeLauro (D-CT), Sam Farr (D-CA), Chaka Fattah (D-PA), Alan Grayson (D-FL), Mike Honda (D-CA), Steven Horsford (D-NV), Jared Huffman (D-CA), Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX), Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY), Hank Johnson (D-GA), Barbara Lee (D-CA) Gwen Moore (D-WI), Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC),  Chellie Pingree (D-ME), Mark Pocan (D-WI), Charles Rangel (D-NY), Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) and Mark Takano (D-CA) applauded the passage of an extension of emergency unemployment insurance by the Senate and called on Speaker Boehner to put the bill on the floor of the House of Representatives as soon as possible.

“Republicans seem to think everyone has exactly what they deserve and money is the measure of a person’s value,” Rep. Raúl M. Grijalva (D-AZ) said. “If you don’t have enough for their tastes, you’re out of luck and they have no interest in helping you. If you have a lot, they’ll go out of their way to make sure you get more at our expense. This damage this attitude has done to the American people is out there if Republicans care to take a look. Unemployment insurance is a fair system that keeps Americans out of poverty. Renewing it helps everyone and hurts no one. The only thing in the way is conservative ideology, and until Republicans start living in the real world, more families will continue to struggle for lack of a few votes in Congress.”

“22,279 Minnesotans have lost unemployment insurance since December and they can’t wait any longer,” Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN) said. “I urge Speaker Boehner to put the Senate-passed extension of unemployment insurance on the floor to bring some relief to Minnesota families and 2.8 million people nationwide. Too many Americans have been out of work for too long. Renewing unemployment insurance is just the first step to get them back on their feet. We need to raise the minimum wage and put Americans back to work if we’re serious about helping the long-term unemployed.”

“After a long struggle here in the Senate, we managed to get a few Republicans on board to help us pass this legislation.  Now, it goes to the House.  After pushing for tax breaks for billionaires and large corporations, it would be unconscionable for the Republican House not to pass this legislation,” Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) said. “If the House does not act, millions of jobless workers will be left out in the cold by the end of this year.  That would be an outrage.”

“"While the House of Representatives has failed to act for nearly 100 days, the Senate has passed legislation to renew unemployment insurance for more than 2.3 million American workers who lost their jobs through no fault of their own. What are the Republicans who control Congress waiting for?” Rep. Xavier Becerra (D-CA) said. "Too many American workers and their families are suffering the consequences of costly partisan obstruction and every additional week of inaction throws another 72,000 Americans into a state of economic insecurity. It’s time for the House to finally take action. Mr. Speaker, we demand a vote to restore unemployment insurance for more than 2 million of our fellow Americans who seek northing more than a chance to get back to work.”

“The Republican inaction that allowed unemployment insurance to expire was shameful,” Rep. Andre Carson (D-IN) said.  Supporting the unemployed should never have become a partisan issue. Unemployed Americans want to work and just need some support while they search for a job or retrain for a new career.  It is time for Speaker Boehner to bring the Senate unemployment insurance extension to the floor so we can finally give struggling families the relief they need.”

“These Americans lost their jobs—and now their last lifeline, unemployment insurance—through no fault of their own,” Rep. Matt Cartwright (D-PA) said. “They don’t deserve to lose their homes as well.”

“As nearly 3 million job-seekers suffer without unemployment benefits, it is unacceptable that House Republicans continue their 3-month-long refusal to help their fellow Americans,” Rep. Judy Chu (D-CA) said. “I am proud to be one of the 192 House Democrats who signed a discharge petition urging the majority to let us vote. And now that the Senate has passed a bipartisan extension, I join my colleagues in the Congressional Progressive Caucus in calling on Republicans to do the right thing and bring this bill to the floor immediately.”

“Today’s bipartisan vote in the Senate to renew unemployment benefits should serve as a wakeup call to Speaker Boehner,” said Rep. David N. Cicilline (D-RI).  “The Speaker is the only thing standing in the way of renewing this vital lifeline for 2.2 million Americans who are struggling to find work, and it is time for House Republicans to allow a vote so we can quickly pass this important legislation that will help middle class families and grow our economy.”

“The millions of families whose unemployment benefits have expired expect Congress to act on this issue,” said Rep. Yvette Clarke (D-NY). “Yet the Republican leaders in the House of Representatives have refused to even allow a vote to extend unemployment benefits for the many families here in Brooklyn and around this nation who depend on these benefits to pay their rent and buy food. In every part of this nation, there are men and women who want to work but cannot find jobs. We have unemployment insurance to protect our families from the loss of income that results from the loss of a job.”

“Speaker Boehner shouldn’t make millions of out-of-work Americans—including more than 31,000 Tennesseans—wait another day for the unemployment benefits they need to keep a roof over their heads and put food on their tables,” Rep. Steve Cohen (D-TN) said. “He should stop obstructing the Senate’s bipartisan bill and immediately let the House vote to extend this critical lifeline to people who have lost their jobs through no fault of their own.”

“I commend the Senate for coming together to renew an economic lifeline that millions of Americans have depended upon in the aftermath of the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression – unemployment insurance,” Rep. John Conyers (D-MI) said. “Extending jobless aid is not only a matter of fairness, it is a prudent step to boost the American economy. Economists estimate that renewing federal unemployment insurance would lead to an additional 200,000 jobs in 2014 by boosting consumption and increasing lagging consumer demand. I hope Speaker Boehner takes note of the Senate’s bipartisan work and allows a vote in the House, so we can do our part.”

“While I’m encouraged by today’s progress in the Senate, I find it outrageous that we are still fighting this battle three months after more than 2 million hardworking Americans lost an essential benefit to help keep food on their table and a roof over their head,” Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-OR) said. “Some of my Republican colleagues maintain that we cannot afford unemployment benefits for struggling Americans, yet they do not blink at approving billions of dollars in corporate subsidies. It’s high time Congress got its priorities straight.”

“To ignore the plight of the millions of struggling Americans who have seen this vital lifeline cut off is unconscionable,” Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) said. “Congress’s top priority should be restoring opportunity and the promise of a better future for all Americans.  We never should have forced people who are already struggling to get by into an even more desperate state. Speaker Boehner, I urge you: bring this bill to the floor for a vote immediately and help these families get back on their feet.”

“The Speaker does not want to bring up this bill because it creates an election year headache for many members of his party,” said Rep. Sam Farr (D-CA). “That headache is nothing compared to the pain it is causing millions of families who are being denied access to unemployment benefits during these tough economic times. The Republican leadership should put the needs of the American people before the needs of their own caucus.” 

“The Senate has acted to restore unemployment benefits to millions of Americans across the country. Now, it’s time for the House to act,” Rep. Fattah (D-PA) said. “Unemployment insurance is a safety net for these individuals while they look for work, and failing to extend it is harming our economy and slowing job creation. I urge Speaker Boehner to bring this legislation to a vote immediately.”

“Unemployment insurance is a crucial lifeline for millions of Americans who are struggling to find work,” Rep. Alan Grayson (D-FL) said. When Republicans blocked an extension of the program in December, more than 1.7 million Americans - including an estimated 73,000 Floridians - lost that lifeline. Now that the Senate has passed legislation extending unemployment insurance, it’s time for the House to act. Millions of Americans are waiting on Speaker Boehner to allow a vote on this program, and they cannot afford to wait any longer.”  

“Over 2 million Americans have lost their unemployment benefits because the Speaker of the House refuses to let us vote,” Rep. Mike Honda (D-CA) said. “Extending UI is good for our overall economy as well as the people who receive it. I have no doubts we have the votes to pass this critical measure; it’s time for Rep. Boehner to let us do our job.”

“The more than 26,000 Nevadans who have been cut off from unemployment insurance cannot wait any longer,” Rep. Steven Horsford (D-NV) said. “We need Speaker Boehner to act and immediately bring up the Senate bill to extend unemployment insurance so that hard-working Americans can stay in their homes, feed their kids, and put gas in the car to look for work.”

“Unemployment benefits are a life raft keeping job seekers—our neighbors and their families—afloat while they look for work,” Rep. Huffman (D-CA) said. “Our economic recovery is still not creating enough jobs, and it is unconscionable that Speaker Boehner is ignoring the millions of Americans desperately in need of our help.”

“We have a lot of work to do to make sure that we are digging ourselves out of this tough economic hole that we have been in,” Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX) said.  But even as we work to jumpstart job growth in the private sector, even as we work to get businesses hiring again, we also have another responsibility:  to offer unemployment assistance to the people who desperately need it -- to Americans who have been laid off in this recession.  We have a responsibility to help them make ends meet and support their families even as they are looking for another job. I call on Speaker Boehner to bring up the Senate passed bill immediately following its passage.”

“The Senate has taken a substantial step forward on behalf of over two million long-term unemployed Americans. It is now time for House Republicans to do the right thing for our country and bring the legislation to the floor for a vote. Any further delay in renewing unemployment compensation benefits will unnecessarily injure the ability of our economy to further recover,” said Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY).

“Now is the time for action on unemployment insurance. The economic crisis suffered from the cut off of unemployment compensation has continued for 3 months, spread to more than 2 million Americans, including more than 80,000 in Georgia,” said Rep. Hank Johnson (D-GA).  “Despite repeated Democratic efforts, Republicans in Congress have shown nothing but spectacular indifference to the struggles of unemployed Americans—callously refusing to restore this vital economic lifeline that helps people support their families and pay their bills while they look for a new job.”

“Speaker Boehner’s refusal to pass an unemployment insurance extension has left more than 2 million jobless Americans without the means to keep their families safe, fed, and warm,” Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA) said. “It’s unconscionable that extremist Republicans continue to play politics with vital lifelines for folks who have fallen on hard times. I urge the Republican leadership to do the right thing and renew emergency unemployment insurance immediately.”

“I am so pleased that the Senate has decided to extend a hand to struggling Americans,” said Rep. Gwen Moore (D-WI). “Now, it’s our turn. I urge Speaker Boehner to allow a vote to extend vital unemployment insurance. Our families and friends cannot wait another day.”

“Unfortunately, the Republican leadership of the House of Representatives has shamefully ended unemployment insurance for more than 2.3 million Americans, including nearly 200,000 New Yorkers, who are currently looking for work,” said Rep. Nadler (D-NY). “Extending unemployment insurance is the right thing to do for our hard working families and it is the right thing to do for our nation’s economy. It is unconscionable that Republicans continue to block its extension.”

“We are shamefully past due for the renewal of unemployment insurance, a vital lifeline that was cut for millions of long-term unemployed Americans,” said Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC).  “The Speaker should move swiftly to bring the Senate’s bipartisan deal to extend the program to the House floor.  More than two million Americans – and counting – have been left out in the cold by the Republican block on an extension of the program, and they are not the only ones who will feel the pain.  Nearly a quarter million other Americans, whose employment depends on the disposable income of the unemployed, stand to those their jobs.  Let’s stop the losses to our people and to the economy”

“Out of work Americans depended on those unemployment benefits to put food on the table and gas in their vehicles. When the benefits run out, not only do they suffer but so do their communities since unemployment checks go directly into the local economy and help small businesses that are still trying to recover from the recession,” said Rep. Chellie Pingree (D-ME). “The Senate did the right thing in passing this extension, now it’s time for Republicans to let the House vote.”

“It is unacceptable Speaker Boehner has rejected this bipartisan agreement even before it was passed in the Senate,” saidRep. Mark Pocan (D-WI). “More than 40,000 Wisconsinites have lost these much needed benefits which help keep the heat on and food on the table.  They cannot wait any longer.  The House must now act and pass this bipartisan agreement.”

“We should ask ourselves what kind of society we want to live in,” said Rep. Charles Rangel (D-NY). “Right now there are many Americans who are unemployed through no fault of their own and are struggling to get by. It's wrong to turn our backs on people who need support until they can get back on their feet. We have an obligation to help those who are most vulnerable. Speaker Boehner, please do the right thing and allow a vote in the House.”

“The Senate has taken extremely important action by passing an Unemployment Insurance extension. Now 2.8 million Americans are counting on Speaker Boehner to schedule a vote so we can send the bill the President Obama to sign,” said Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL). In my home state of Illinois 153,400 people have lost these benefits, and our struggling to survive. These are hardworking people, who have fallen on tough times and are looking for their next opportunity. In the meantime they need assistance to keep food on the table and to remain in their homes. I look forward to working with my colleagues in the House to pass the Unemployment Insurance extension without any further delay.” 

“Speaker Boehner seems determined to deliver a body blow to more than 2 million Americans who are in need of help,” said Rep. Mark Takano (D-CA). He should stop posturing to the extreme elements of his party that want nothing more than to see this safety net taken away from the American people.  Billions of dollars in economic activity has been drained out of our economy by failing to renew unemployment benefits. If Speaker Boehner really wants to grow jobs, renewing these benefits for the long-term unemployed is one of the ways he can start.

Press Contacts:

Adam Sarvana (Grijalva) – (202) 225-2435

Mike Casca (Ellison) – (202) 225-4755

James Gleeson (Becerra) – (202) 225-6235

Nathan Bennett (Carson) – (202) 225-4011

Shane Seaver (Cartwright) – (202) 225-5546

Dan Lindner (Chu) – (202) 225-5464

Andrew Gernt (Cicilline) – (202) 225-4911

Patrick Rheaume (Clarke) – (202) 225-6231

Ben Garmisa (Cohen) – (202) 225-3265

Andrew Schreiber (Conyers) – (202) 225-5126

Kerry Arndt (DeFazio) – (202) 225-6416

Sara Lonardo (DeLauro) – (202) 225-3661

Adam Russell (Farr) – (202) 225-2861

Ally Freeman (Fattah) – (202) 225-4001

Lauren Doney (Grayson) – (202) 225-9889

Ken Scudder (Honda) – (202) 226-9705

Tim Hogan (Horsford) – (202) 225-9894

Paul Arden (Huffman) – (202) 225-5187

Mike McQuerry (Jackson Lee) –  (202) 225-3816

Stephanie Báez  (Jeffries) – (202) 225-5936

Richard Andrew Phelan (Johnson) – (202) 225-1605

Carrie Adams (Lee) – (202) 225-2661

Staci Cox (Moore) – (202) 225-4572

Aaron Keyak (Nadler) - (202) 225-5635

Daniel van Hoogstraten (Norton) – (202) 225-8050

Willy Ritch (Pingree) – (202) 225-6116

Alex Nguyen (Pocan) – (202) 225-2906

Hannah Kim (Rangel) - (202) 225-4365

Michael Briggs (Sanders) – (202) 228-6492

Lee Whack (Schakowsky) – (202) 225-2111

Brett Morrow (Takano) – (202) 225-2305