Media Contact: Christine Glunz, 202.225.3072
Washington, DC – U.S. Representative Zoe Lofgren (D-San Jose) today called on Republicans in Congress to extend unemployment benefits before adjourning for the year. The current extended unemployment benefits program is scheduled to expire just two days after Christmas when Congress is not in session, denying benefits to nearly 90,000 workers every week thereafter, totaling almost 2.2 million Americans over six months. o:p>
“Since President Bush took office, one in three Silicon Valley households has experienced a layoff. In California, extending unemployment benefits is critical, especially in the San Jose area, which is facing a 7.6 percent unemployment rate,” Lofgren said. “Since January 2001, our country has lost nearly 3 million private sector jobs and the national debt has increased to $3 trillion. As the Republican leadership continues to pass bad economic policies for this country, we must provide support to those who remain unemployed.”
Rep. Lofgren supports a bill (H.R. 3568) to extend the federal benefits program for an additional six months, increase the amount of benefits to 26 weeks, include coverage for 1.4 million workers who have already exhausted their extended benefits and expand unemployment insurance coverage for low-wage and part-time workers. The cost of the unemployment insurance extension is covered by the Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund, which was developed for just the kind of economic situation we are facing today.
“Some of my Republican colleagues argue that jobless benefits should not go on forever,” said Lofgren. “They should know that after 13 extra weeks, eligibility runs out for additional benefits with exceptions in a few states that have particularly high unemployment rates. This extension is meant to provide a safety net, to deny this opportunity is simply cold-hearted and not worthy of the respect of our citizens.”
Since the beginning of the Bush administration, long-term unemployment has tripled to the highest level in almost 10 years. The percentage of Americans exhausting their regular unemployment benefits without finding a job has 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.