From the Office of Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi

Pelosi Statement on Extending Unemployment Insurance'

December 8, 2003

Washington, D.C. -- House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi released the following statement today on the Republican refusal to extend unemployment benefits set to expire at Christmas:

“Last year, the Republican majority said, ‘bah humbug’ to laid-off workers and allowed unemployment benefits to expire at Christmas time. That left millions of families with no way to put food on their tables, pay their bills, or pay for their health care. All that these families received from the Republican-led Congress was a lump of coal.

“This holiday season is bringing more of the same bad economic news to millions of jobless workers:

  • Nearly nine million Americans are unemployed;
  • Two million workers have been unemployed for more than six months; and
  • 1.4 million workers have exhausted their unemployment benefits but still have not found work.

“It’s almost inconceivable to me that Republican leaders are poised to play the Grinch again. Two days after Christmas, the current extended unemployment benefits program is scheduled to expire - denying benefits to nearly 90,000 workers every week thereafter. Over six months, this will affect almost 2.2 million Americans.

“For too many families, unemployment benefits are about survival. They are never about luxury. It is about whether kids go to bed hungry, not about whether Christmas dinner is catered.

“House Democrats are fighting for American workers. Led by my colleague Congresswoman Darlene Hooley, House Democrats launched a discharge petition to force Republicans to take up the Democratic plan to extend unemployment benefits before we adjourn for the year.

“The Democratic plan, put forward by Congressmen Charlie Rangel and Ben Cardin, would continue the extended benefits program for an additional six months, increase the time that unemployed workers can get benefits from 13 to 26 weeks, and provide unemployment benefits to 1.4 million workers who have already exhausted their federal extended benefits.

“The Democratic plan addresses the needs of American families who are suffering. Unemployed workers often have no choice but to spend their savings, including too many who have lost their health insurance.

“The Democratic plan addresses the needs of the American economy. There is no better way to boost the economy. Families will spend this money right away on necessities such as food, clothing, shelter, and medical care. Each dollar spent on unemployment benefits will boost the economy by $1.73. What a great investment for the federal government.

“Extending unemployment benefits is good for families and it is good for the economy. We must not leave for the holidays by leaving American workers out in the cold.”




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