Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi

Pelosi: GOP Refusal to Extend Unemployment Insurance Hurts Families and Economy

May 15, 2003

Washington, D.C. -- House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi spoke on the House floor this morning in support of a Democratic proposal to extend unemployment insurance and in opposition to the Republicans' refusal to consider the bill on the House floor. Below is a transcript of her remarks:

"Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentleman for yielding and rise in opposition to the previous question to the rule. The bill before us to reauthorize the National Transportation Safety Board is a good bill, and I strongly support it. However, after it is passes, we should immediately approve the bill proposed by my colleagues, Mr. Rangel and Mr. Cardin, to extend unemployment benefits to the millions of Americans whose benefits will run out at the end of the month.

"In December, the Republican majority allowed this vital program to expire just before Christmas. That left millions of families without work and without benefits. We cannot let that happen again as we go toward the end of May.

"Mr. Speaker, since January 20, 2001, when President Bush was sworn in, 2.7 million private sector jobs have been lost, the worst record of job creation, or lack thereof, of any Administration since the Great Depression.

"This is the worst record, as you can see. Every President since the war has had job creation above the line, but President Bush is at 2.7 million jobs lost. 100,000 jobs a month since he became President have been lost.

"That means that every working hour of every working day, 563 people become unemployed. That’s more than serve in the House and in the Senate combined. Every hour, the House and the Senate would lose its jobs. Some people may think that this is a good idea if we don’t have more relevance to the lives of the American people and understand when people are out of work that they need this benefit.

"The American people do not need a dividend tax cut; American workers need jobs.

"Earlier this month, the Department of Labor announced that April’s unemployment rate reached 6 percent, with nearly 9 million Americans out of work. Another 9 million Americans have either given up looking for work or are working part time. Millions of families are struggling with the hardship and the uncertainty of life without a paycheck. Without unemployment benefits, many of these families would have nowhere to turn. Indeed some of them told me yesterday that they would become homeless.

"Temporary federal benefits expire on May 31, but President Bush and the Republican leadership have refused to include any extension of benefits in the tax bill that passed the House last week or in what is under consideration in the Senate.

"This extension is important to America’s working families and to our economy. Economists tell us that extending unemployment benefits is the most effective way to quickly grow the economy and create jobs. It is fair, fast acting, and fiscally sound.

"For every dollar the federal government invests in unemployment benefits, the return is $1.73 to the economy. In contrast, for every dollar the federal government provides to cut taxes on dividends, the return to the economy is nine cents. This is nonsensical.

"The plan proposed by Mr. Rangel and Mr. Cardin, and I commend them for their leadership, would provide for a six-month extension of the temporary federal unemployment benefits program. It would provide 26 weeks of federal benefits for workers who lose their jobs and another 13 weeks for workers who have already exhausted their benefits without finding a new job in this stagnant economy.

"None of the Republican tax plans -- the President’s, the House Republicans’, or the Senate Republicans’-- provide one thin dime for unemployed workers.

"The unemployment rate today is higher than when temporary federal unemployment benefits were first approved in March of last year, but Republicans have decided that instead of helping unemployed workers, they should give people who make a million dollars a year an average of $100,000 in tax breaks. How could that be right?

"While Republicans insist on tax breaks for those who need it least, our Democratic priorities are clear: we will fight to get the economy back on track, we will create jobs, and we will help unemployed workers.

"I urge my colleagues to vote no on the previous question on the rule; vote yes to extend unemployment benefits for the 9 million Americans who can’t find work in this stagnant economy.

"How can we go down a course of action where we make the same mistake twice? The President came in, gave over a trillion dollars in tax cuts, and 2.7 million Americans lose their jobs. Then they step up to the plate again and offer more of the same. Job losers.

"Don’t even take my word for it; take the word of the Joint Taxation Committee, which is Republican and directed by the rules of the 108th Congress to score dynamically, giving every benefit of every doubt to the plan. It’s a job loser by their estimation. So if we have to go on to a different course of action, one remedy that helps the economy and helps unemployed workers is extending the unemployed benefits.

"I commend my colleagues, Mr. Rangel and Mr. Cardin, for their leadership on this."


Current Presss Releases
2010 | 2009 | 2008 | 2007 | 2006 | 2005 | 2004 | 2003
2002 | 2001 | 2000 | 1999 | 1998 | 1997 | 1996