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Republican Leadership Is Wrong to Stand in the Way of Extending Unemployment Benefits

Last week, Congress took action to strengthen our economy and give assistance to millions of jobless American workers by passing the Emergency Extended Unemployment Compensation Act to extend unemployment benefits to those who have exhausted their regular benefits.  This bill will provide crucial assistance to an estimated 3.8 million Americans - at a time when unemployment saw the highest monthly spike in 22 years - and provide needed stimulus to our struggling economy.

Once again, the majority of House Republicans were on the wrong side for America's families - 74 percent of Republican members voted NO.  

“House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) and Minority Whip Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) rallied their troops as they have repeatedly in the past year and a half to block an expansion of children's health insurance, spending bills, stem-cell research and timelines for the Iraq War.” [Roll Call, 6/16/08]


In voting NO, Republican Minority Leader John Boehner claimed the bill is “an irresponsible use of taxpayers' funds.”


•    The Republican Party's Ranking Member on the House Budget Committee, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wisconsin), explained the bill is fiscally responsible: “We have a trust fund for this…This is one time money.” [Wall Street Journal, 6/13/08]

•    Every $1 spent on unemployment benefits generates $1.64 in new economic demand.  As energy and food prices rise, jobless workers and our nation's businesses could use the relief. [Mark Zandi, chief economist of Moody's, 1/22/08]  

•    The Congressional Budget Office has determined that extending these benefits is one of the most cost-effective and fast-acting ways to stimulate the economy because the money is spent quickly.


Rep. Mark Kirk (R-Illinois) said he voted against the bill because unemployment is not a big issue in his Northeastern Illinois district: “I have a very high-income district.” [Roll Call, 6/16/08]

•    The two counties that contain Illinois' 10th District - Lake and Cook counties - have seen the unemployment rate increase 0.6 percentage points from April 2007 to April 2008.  Unemployment there is on par with the national rate. [BLS]

This vote further underscores just how out of touch House Republicans are with American families and the economy.