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WASHINGTON – Congressman Steny H. Hoyer (D-MD), the incoming House Democratic Whip, released the following statement today regarding President Bush’s call on Saturday for Congress to extend unemployment insurance benefits for jobless Americans as soon as it convenes in January:
"I am pleased that President Bush, just nine days before Christmas, is showing the compassion that he so often talks about in joining Democrats who are fighting to extend unemployment insurance benefits for nearly 800,000 jobless Americans, whose benefits are set to expire on December 28. Democrats urged the President to weigh in and persuade House Republicans to agree to the bipartisan Senate deal to extend unemployment benefits the week before Thanksgiving, but he declined. As a result, this issue – as well as the anxiety of unemployed Americans – has unnecessarily dragged on.
"Still, the President’s call on Saturday for Congress to assist unemployed Americans as soon as Congress convenes in January is better late than never. I hope House Republicans will heed his call, and reconsider their outrageous failure to act in extending benefits in November. Democrats stand ready to act as soon as possible.
"The President’s engagement on his important issue is particularly timely since his economic policies are failing the American people and exacerbating the problem of unemployment. Since President Bush took office, the unemployment rate has jumped from 4.2 percent to 6 percent, and our economy has lost more than 2 million private-sector jobs. I urge all my colleagues, both Democrat and Republican, to extend unemployment benefits as soon as the 108th convenes."