Hoyer Morning Hour Speech On Extending Unemployment Insurance

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Transcript: 

thank you, mr. speaker. mr. speaker, before we adjourn for the year, there are a number of important items we must address. the most pressing is the expiration of unemployment benefits at the end of december. should congress fail to act, millions of americans who rely on emergency unemployment compensation will begin to see their payments disappear starting in january. 2.1 million of our fellow americans will have lost their benefits by the middle of february, and over six million by the end of 2012. however, we have the power to prevent that from happening by extending those benefits. these emergency benefits were put in place the start of the recession, in december of 2007, and with so many americans still out of work, now is certainly not the time to let them come to an end. the number one challenge we must address in the congress remains job creation. americans out of work have been doing their part to find jobs. congress must do its part as well. some republicans have unfairly and incorrectly blame those that have been laid off for their continued difficulty finding jobs. however, there are over four people looking for every one job that is available. at the same time there are nearly seven million fewer jobs today than there were in 2007. instead of blaming the victims, we ought to work together, democrats and republicans, to find solutions. congress has never allowed emergency unemployment benefits to lapse with our jobless rate anywhere close to where it is today. if it did over 17,000 people in my state of maryland would see their lifeline cut off by february. in ohio, speaker boehner's state, 80,000 people are at risk. among african-americans, latinos and other minorities, a disproportionate number have been affected by long-term unemployment and are especially vulnerable if these benefits were to end. every state, every state would see more americans who are out of work slip into poverty. local communities would be affected, too, with residual job losses. the economic policy institute has estimated that allowing these benefits to expire would cost us another 500,000 jobs. half a million. i sincerely hope that republicans will work with us to prevent so many americans from being left out in the cold as they continue to seek jobs but can't find them. it's long past the time they start working with us to pass a real jobs plan to get americans back to work and grow our economy. the president put a jobs bill on our desk in september. it is now december. we have yet to see that bill or any other jobs bill put on this house floor by the republican leadership. democrats have multiple jobs plans on the table. the president's american jobs act and the house democrats' make it in america plan, both will help create jobs right away and invest in long-term economic competitiveness. if republicans continue to be unwilling to work with us on a plan to create jobs, i hope they will at least work with us to pass a measure that will prevent further losses as a result of the expiring unemployment benefits. i strongly urge my republican friends to help us stop the looming and entirely preventable disaster of millions having no support. it is the responsibility we have to our constituents and to those looking to us for leadership during this challenging time. let us not go home, let us not go to celebrate christmas or other holidays without ensuring the extension unemployment benefits for those americans who cannot find jobs notwithstanding the fact they are looking for jobs. they're counting on us. let's be sure that their reliance was well placed, and i yield back the balance of my time.