( – promoted by lowkell)
As we are rapidly approaching the deadline for Congressional action on extending unemployment benefits to those who have lost their jobs, it appears as though Virginia’s senators don’t understand that action is urgently needed to help those who are just barely hanging on. In a letter to Majority Leader Harry Reid and Chairman Max Baucus, almost 30 members of the US Senate called for “a long-term renewal of the Emergency Unemployment Compensation.” Completely absent from that letter was the signatures of either Jim Webb or Mark Warner.
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This is extremely important because the letter makes it absolutely clear why the extension of these benefits is important and fits within the precedent set by Congressional history.
“For the past six decades, Congress has provided federally funded unemployment insurance benefits during every recession. Further, federal unemployment insurance benefits have always been provided until the economy was on a stable path of growth. In fact, the highest unemployment rate at which federally funded unemployment benefits were not extended was 7.2 percent. Currently, the national unemployment rate is 9.6 percent. At the current rate, without a reauthorization, we would cut the life line that millions of Americans use to stay afloat. Equally importantly, we would endanger our fragile economic recovery by reducing the amount Americans spend on groceries, utilities and other basic needs.”
Furthermore, it’s not as if this letter is even only signed by members of the progressive wing of the Democratic Party. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, for instance, signed onto the letter and she is a centrist who has her base in upstate NY (the more conservative part of the state). Webb and Warner therefore should explain why they didn’t step up to advocate for those who are struggling the most. At a time when there are people all over the Commonwealth are out of work through no fault of their own, after all, Virginians need to know why their Senators refused to show leadership on the issue.