Shaheen Urges Opponents of Unemployment Benefits Extension to Step Aside, November 2, 2009

November 02, 2009

Mr. President, the Senate has just voted on a motion to advance the Unemployment Compensation Extension Act. This is the second time--that is right, the second time--we voted on this critical legislation. But, unfortunately, opponents of the extension are still holding it up.

   

The bill under consideration today incorporates important ideas from both sides of the aisle. When the House bill included additional weeks only for workers in States with unemployment rates above 8.5 percent, the chairman and the majority leader allowed us to work out a compromise that would support jobless workers in all 50 States.

   

An amendment by Senator Isakson to extend the home buyers tax credit has now been incorporated into the Senate bill, as well as an important amendment from Senator Bunning to extend the carryback of net operating losses for up to 5 years. Both of these are good ideas that will help homeowners, help our housing market, and provide relief to businesses that are trying to weather this economic recession. Both have now been included in the Unemployment Compensation Extension Act.

   

Now it is time for all of us to stop playing politics and to focus on the critical issue we started to address a month ago: the devastating rates of unemployment and the nearly 2 million Americans who are exhausting their benefits at the rate of 7,000 a day.

   

This is good legislation. It is legislation that provides at least 14 additional weeks of unemployment insurance for those Americans who have been hardest hit by this recession and those whose benefits are starting to be exhausted.

   

I was pleased that once again the motion to advance this bill received broad bipartisan support. The vote was 85 to 2. The first vote was 87 to 13. It should receive this kind of support because unemployment isn't a New England problem or a Montana problem or a southern problem; it isn't a Republican or an Independent or a Democratic problem; it is a hardship that hits every community in every State in every part of our country.

   

Last week, I spoke about my constituent Jane McDermott from Stoddard, NH. Jane wrote me last week that without this extension, she doesn't know how she is going to pay for the gas she needs to get out and look for a job, she doesn't know how she is going to pay for groceries for her family or any of the other family necessities. I was hoping that today Jane would get the news she has been waiting for--that this extension will be put into effect and that she, along with millions of other Americans who need it, will get the help to be able to continue to look for a job and continue to get the family necessities while she does that.

   

I think it is time--again, way past time--for us to put politics aside. We shouldn't make Jane or any of the other hundreds of thousands of Americans who have been waiting for this extension wait one more day.

   

Mr. President, I yield the floor with the hopes that we will get an agreement today, tomorrow, as soon as possible, to help the people who need help. Thank you.

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