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Unemployment Insurance Extended—Finally - Editorial Comment
Once again the Republicans in Congress demonstrated their callousness toward “those less fortunate” in American society. How? By delaying the passage of emergency relief for those in need. They filibustered, for the second time in a year, the passage of unemployment benefit extensions for American workers!
The former extension expired on June 2nd. The Democratic-controlled House of Representatives passed legislation that would have extended benefits once again in late May. Republicans in the Senate filibustered passage of relief right up to the third week in July. Their argument—that the relief must not add to the present national deficit. A misleading argument from the Party that showed no fiscal responsibility when they were in control of the Congress and the White House.
Fortunately three Republicans came around and recognized the desperate need of over 2.5 million unemployed Americans and joined with the Democratic majority in the Senate and passed the needed legislation that will provide extended unemployment benefits to those in need. It has been signed into law by President Obama.
Under the new law anyone is eligible who has not yet finished all the tiers of unemployment insurance. It will help people who have been out of work for more than 26 weeks. It was also retroactive to June 2nd. Unfortunately, it does not add any additional weeks of benefits for people who have already exhausted their unemployment benefit because they have already collected 99 weeks of insurance.
However, on a positive note, the new legislation permits the unemployed to have a part-time job or seasonal employment without reducing their unemployment benefit. In the past, if an individual was collecting a benefit of $500 per week, took a part-time or seasonal job and when they returned to unemployment they had found their benefit was reduced. This will no longer occur, they will retain the higher benefit.
We applaud the efforts of President Obama, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Without their persistence, 2.5 million Americans, many of them members of Local 3 and the IBEW, would have little if no relief from the effects of long-term unemployment.