WASHINGTON – House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer (MD) demanded again today that Republican leaders extend federal unemployment benefits for out-of-work Americans in responding to a new Center on Budget and Policy Priorities report that showed a record 354,000 jobless workers exhausted their regular state unemployment benefits in March:
“This disturbing new report shows the cold reality behind President Bush’s rosy rhetoric on the economy. A record 354,000 Americans exhausted their state unemployment benefits in March and the number of long-term unemployed Americans is rising, with nearly one in four jobless workers out of a job for 27 weeks or more. By the end of April, 1.5 million Americans will have exhausted their benefits.
“Yet Republicans refuse to admit that the job market remains stubbornly sluggish and have ignored the need to extend the federal Temporary Extended Unemployment Compensation Program (TEUC), which would provide an additional 13 weeks of federal benefits after state benefits have been exhausted. Even with recent job growth, it will take months of robust job growth to return to an economy that doesn’t call for a federal benefits program.
“Republicans allowed the program to expire on December 21 last year, turning a blind eye to the 8.3 million unemployed Americans unemployed and their families. They have also turned a deaf ear to Federal Reserve Chairman who recently said an extension is a ‘good idea largely because of the size of the degree of exhaustions.’
“Democrats have repeatedly pressed Republican Congressional leaders and President Bush to help job-less workers, but they refuse. President Bush has expressed support for extending the program but has not lifted a finger to make it happen.
“Not only would this program help jobless Americans stay afloat until they are able to find a good job, it would also help the economy. Every dollar that goes into this program is a dollar spent on groceries, clothing and rent, which boosts the economy.
“I call on President Bush to honor his motto of ‘compassionate conservatism’ and call upon the Republican Congress to immediately approve an extension of temporary jobless benefits.”
Read the entire Center on Budget and Policy Priorities report on their website.