As 1.3 million Americans are unable to pay their rent because their unemployment benefits expired on Dec. 28, 2013, the United States Senate has passed today a three-month extension of those benefits. Six Republicans joined 54 Democrats to pass bipartisan legislation sponsored by Sen.(D-RI) and Sen. , (R-NV). (D-AK), Orrin G. Hatch (R- Utah) and (R-SD) were not present for the vote.
This legislation will reinstate the lifeline for more than a million Americans who are desperately trying to recover from the worst economic disaster since the Great Depression.
Americans feel as if they have been abandoned by their elected leaders during a time when they need their assistance the most. This is a very good step toward easing the trauma to some of the most vulnerable Americans, and it is an opportunity for our leaders to demonstrate their willingness to work together on issues of such dire importance to so many.
The $6.4 billion extension is meeting resistance from Republicans because there is no offset to cover the expense. Other opponents consider unemployment benefits a deterrent that prevents recipients from looking for a job. The nations’ leaders are facing extreme opposition from conservative groups.
Recent unemployment figures show that more than 10 million people were unemployed with a national rate of 7 percent. One third of those have been out of work at least 27 weeks.
Democrats urged supporters to support the legislation, which is viewed as critical to continued economic growth.
"This is basic. This is humane," said Senate Majority Whip Richard Durbin (D-Ill.).
As supporters prepare for a battle in the House, Americans are holding their breath and wondering if they will soon become homeless. CNN reports, "Today brought us a glimmer of hope," said Sen. Charles Schumer, (D-N.Y.), after the vote. "It shows that the big plates — the tectonic plates in our politics — are moving."
Presidentsupports this legislation, and he has made his stand very clear. He supports immediate passage of the extension and promises to sign it immediately after it is passed. The Emergency Unemployment Compensation program was initiated under the direction of former President in 2008 to offer financial relief for Americans who were employed long term and had exhausted the benefits offered by their state.