Media Contact: Christine Glunz, 202.225.3072
Washington, DC – U.S. Representative Zoe Lofgren (D-San Jose) supported a bill today to extend federal unemployment benefits, which could bring much needed relief to millions of Americans and over three hundred thousand Californians, who will not otherwise receive additional aid. The amendment, offered by Rep. George Miller of California passed today in the U.S. House by a vote of 227-179.
“Less then one month ago, when we were returning to Washington, I called on my colleagues in the House to extend unemployment benefits, so those out of a job can get the help they need to find work,” Congresswoman Lofgren said. “We had a chance to help millions of Americans who are suffering under the misguided economic policies of the Bush Administration and we took it. I hope that Republican leadership won’t try to undercut this extension. The Senate should pass this bill as soon as possible so the President can sign it into law.”
“Not only is extending unemployment benefits good for those who are unemployed, it will also promote economic growth by pumping $1.73 into the economy for every $1 spent on benefits,” said Lofgren. “With nearly 3 million jobs lost nationwide since President Bush took office, and over three hundred thousand lost in California, an extension is overdue. It is even more critical now with 8.4 million unemployed Americans, 1 million in California alone, because it is taking longer and longer for people to find work.”
Rep. Miller offered the extension as an amendment to the Community Services Block Grant Act this afternoon on the House floor. The bill will be sent to the Senate and if passed will go to conference for final approval. The federal unemployment program expired at the end of the year, denying assistance to approximately 80,000-90,000 people nationwide each week since December 21 and leaving those out of work who ran out of state unemployment benefits over the holidays without any federal help. The percentage of Americans exhausting their regular unemployment benefits without finding a job has also reached a record level. Many of the unemployed will run out of benefits long before they find a job. In fact, two million Americans have been out of work for more than six months.
An estimated 375,000 unemployed individuals exhausted their regular unemployment benefits in January without qualifying for any further assistance - and are receiving neither a paycheck or unemployment benefits. Since the beginning of the Bush Administration, nearly 3 million jobs have been lost and the job market remains weak, with only 1,000 jobs created in December. Long-term unemployment has tripled to the second highest level in almost 10 years and stands at 1.9 million.