Jobless benefits expired for more than 1.3 million Americans on December 28, 2013. Since that date the total number of long-term unemployed Americans has increased to 1.4 million. The issue was raised today in the U.S. Senate however Republicans and Democrats could not reach an agreement on the best course of action for determining long-term jobless benefits. According to Senator Jack Reed, "This is a dispiriting moment for millions of Americans."
On Tuesday, Democrats rejected the Republican proposal to extend benefits for three months, which would have cost $6.5 billion. Republicans rejected the Democratic proposal to extend benefits until the middle of November, which would have ultimately cost $18 billion.
President Obama recently gave a speech entitled the "Importance of Extending Emergency Unemployment Insurance" during a press conference where he spoke about the importance of continuing unemployment benefits. "But although the economy has been growing and we've been adding new jobs, the truth of the matter is, is that the financial crisis was so devastating that there's still a lot of people who are struggling. And, in fact, if we don't provide unemployment insurance it makes it harder for them to find a job."
Obama spoke about specific cases where citizens are presently struggling to find employment. "And this insurance helps keep food on the table while Dad is sending out résumés. It helps Mom pay the rent while she's learning new skills to earn that new job. It provides that extra bit of security so that losing your job doesn’t mean that you have to lose your house, or everything you've worked so hard to build for years. We make this promise to our fellow Americans who are working hard to get back on their feet, because when times get tough, we are not a people who say, you’re on your own. We're a people who believe that we’re all in it together. And we know, 'there but the grace of God go I,'' the president said.
The White House released a statement today in response to the Senate indecision (placing blame on Republicans) that read as follows: "It's very disappointing that Republicans in the Senate chose to block action tonight on a compromise solution to extend emergency unemployment insurance for 1.3 million Americans who have been actively looking for a job and have now had this vital lifeline cut off. We will continue to work with both sides to find a solution because the cost of inaction is simply too high."
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