From the Office of Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi
 

Pelosi and Daschle Send Letter to President Bush on Unemployment Insurance

November 20, 2003

Washington, D.C. -- House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi and Senate Democratic Leader Tom Daschle sent the following letter today to President Bush regarding unemployment insurance:

November 20, 2003


The President
The White House
Washington, D.C. 20520

Dear Mr. President:

This holiday season is bringing more of the same bad news that millions of jobless workers heard last year. Three million private-sector jobs have been lost since January 2001; nine million Americans are unemployed; over 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. American workers are weathering the effects of an economy where there is only one job for every three individuals searching for a job. And yet, the Republican leadership in Congress is refusing again this year - as it has in the past - to address this urgent problem.

Last fall, before Congress adjourned, the Senate worked on a bipartisan basis to ensure that unemployed workers would not be left out in the cold. Unfortunately, the House Republican leadership decided to turn its back on these families, and your Administration sat idly by. Thousands of workers were left stranded until Congress reconvened and we were able to pass an extension. Just last week, Senate Democrats repeatedly asked for unanimous consent to pass an extension to the unemployment insurance program, only to face Republican objections time and time again. And, yesterday, House Majority Leader Tom Delay went so far as to say that he sees "no reason" to extend the federal unemployment compensation program. Clearly, inaction is an unacceptable position.

It was unconscionable to fail to act last year, and we must not follow the same path this year. In fact, since it appears Congress is not planning on returning until the end of January, it is even more urgent that your Administration use its influence now to pressure Congressional Republicans to work with us to pass a six-month extension before Congress adjourns.

As you know, just days after Christmas, the federal Temporary Extended Unemployment Compensation (TEUC) program is scheduled to expire, denying benefits to over 80,000 workers every week thereafter. Moreover, a vast number of unemployed workers will be unable to access federal benefits unless the program is strengthened to include 26 weeks of coverage and technical fixes needed to ensure access to additional weeks of benefits for high unemployment states.

As we approach the holiday season, Congress must act to ensure that families are not left without the ability to make ends meet while searching for employment. On behalf of the unemployed families who will be hurt if the federal unemployment compensation program expires, we urge your Administration to end its silence and take a leadership role in protecting America's unemployed workers.

Sincerely,

Nancy Pelosi
House Democratic Leader
Tom Daschle
Senate Democratic Leader





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