On Tuesday, the House of Representatives took quick action and a first step in assisting the unemployed with passage of the House measure, H.R. 3548. The Bill passed overwhelmingly by a vote of 331 to 83 and reflects strong bipartisan support for the unemployed struggling to cope with the hardships of just trying to survive in today's economy. The House's vote is a critical first step in moving the unemployment extension through Congress in time to help the 400,000 who will or who have already lost their unemployment benefits this month and the estimated 1.5 million who run out of benefits by year end.
It is now in the Senates hands to either pass the Bill as it is or to improve on the measure. On Wednesday, Senator Reed of RI has offered up a companion Bill S.1699 to H.R. 3548 entitled, Reed's Unemployment Compensation Extension Act of 2009 (S.1699) which would provide an additional 13 weeks of joblessness benefits in states with unemployment rates at or above 8.5 percent. "This bill will provide basic support to jobless Americans who were laid off through no fault of their own and are struggling to find work in extraordinarily weak labor market," said Reed, who sent a letter to Senate Leadership today urging for swift passage of this legislation. "In addition to providing more weeks of unemployment insurance benefits, it is vital to continue unemployment compensation programs in law through at least 2010 to ensure benefits are available to workers more recently unemployed. It is also important to consider proposals that would help to stem job loss. Looking forward, we need to create a path of growth that creates jobs as consumer spending returns and production increases. The Senate leadership on both sides of the aisle know how important it is to get this done, and I'm working with them to move this effort forward."
On Wednesday, it was reported by Corey Boles, Of DOW JONES NEWSWIRES (link here- http://www.nasdaq.com/aspx/stock-market-news-story.aspx?storyid=200909231810dowjonesdjonline000 566&title=senate-mulls-jobless-benefit-extension-for-all-states-source ) that "Any move by the Senate finance panel to move benefits extension legislation would likely have to wait until after the committee concludes consideration of health-care legislation."
I find it amazing that with unemployment at the highest levels ever, that our elected representatives will not address this issue till the Health Care Reform issue has been resolved. Also, with both the Congress and the Senate about to go on October break, when will the Senate address this important and critical piece of legislation and give the unemployed in this Country the assistance that is badly needed in these tough economic times?