House Votes To Extend Unemployment Insurance Benefits

Tonight, the House passed the Unemployment Compensation Extension Act (H.R. 3548) by a vote of 331-83. The legislation provides up to 13 additional weeks of unemployment benefits to workers in high unemployment states who are about to run out of benefits — helping at least 300,000 Americans who will exhaust all of their benefits by the end of September and over 1 million who will run out of unemployment by the end of December. This extension is targeted to states with particularly high unemployment (those with a three-month average total unemployment rate of 8.5% or a 13-week insured unemployment rate above 6%), where it is more difficult for people to find new jobs. Currently, that includes:

Alaska, Arizona, California, District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Maine, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Nevada, New Jersey, North Carolina, New York, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Puerto Rico, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Washington, Wisconsin, and West Virginia

Ways and Means Income Security and Family Support Chairman Jim McDermott (D-WA) on the House floor:

“Across America, there are people who are hanging on by a thin economic lifeline called unemployment insurance. Without the passage of this bill, that thread will break for other one million workers before the end of this year, plunging them and their families into an economic abyss and threatening to reverse the positive signs we are beginning to see in the economy. We could prevent that this afternoon by passing this bill.”

Speaker Pelosi on passage:

The worst economic crisis since the Great Depression is taking its harshest toll on the men and women who are facing it without steady employment. The New Direction Congress' top priority is to put in place policies that will grow the economy and create jobs, but despite clear signs of economic recovery, too many Americans have yet to return to full-time employment.

Today, the House of Representatives extended a lifeline to hundreds of thousands of workers nationwide. Extending unemployment insurance in the states hardest hit by the recession provides families with the assistance and reassurance they need to help weather the economic storm. The 314,000 Americans set to lose unemployment insurance this month — and the more than 1 million who will exhaust their benefits by the end of the year –need help to avert an even bigger financial tragedy, such as the loss of their home or a medical bankruptcy, which would ripple out into our larger economy.

Extending these benefits is also among the most cost-effective and fastest ways to stimulate the economy — because the money is spent quickly. Every $1 spent on unemployment benefits generates $1.63 in new economic demand. But it is only one component of our larger strategy. With the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, we have already brought our economy back from the brink and are starting to set our economy back on the path to prosperity. The dream of affordable, accessible, quality health care is in reach, and the drive to strengthen our clean energy economy and bring common sense regulation to our financial markets will lay the foundation for growth long into the future.

Learn more about the bill>>