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Supporting our most vulnerable workers in their hour of need

Many of our Republican colleagues have consistently blocked efforts to support these workers in the midst of this economic downturn. Yet most of these same members of Congress have been the loudest advocates of giving more tax breaks to the wealthy and the powerful.  

Not only does this kind of thinking represent a lack of humanity to millions of people who are among the most vulnerable in our society, but it is also bad economic policy. Experts like the Economic Policy Institute have made the case that providing these benefits to unemployed workers would be more simulative to our economy than the millionaire tax break giveaway that Republicans secured last December.  

When you give millionaires and CEOs extra tax benefits that they don’t need, they save it and often refuse to invest that money in our economy and our workforce. But if we provide this basic assistance to unemployed workers, they’ll spend it to help support their families and, in the process, will boost our economy and help spur our economic recovery.

Those who complain about the spending associated with this bill ignore two key factors. First, this bill costs only a fraction of what we spent on tax breaks for millionaires last year. Second, unemployment benefits have always been considered emergency spending. The circumstance of millions of unemployed, low-income workers who are fighting to survive month to month is a true emergency for those families and our nation as a whole. And if we prematurely truncate benefits before our economy properly recovers, we risk further adding to the economic downturn.

Of the 13.9 million unemployed workers, 6.2 million have been unemployed longer than six months. Data analyzed by the Congressional Research Service indicate that older unemployed workers and black unemployed workers are more likely to be out of work for more than 99 weeks than younger unemployed workers and white unemployed workers. These numbers are staggering but we cannot forget that behind these numbers are the faces of real people who face an uncertain future. And these faces of the long-term unemployed represent every race, color, creed, education level and walk of life.  

While we recognize the difficult political environment to pass this bill, I appeal to my colleagues for their sense of fairness and decency. Shouldn’t we use our resources to support working class people all across this nation as opposed to giving more corporate welfare to millionaires who refuse to invest in new jobs?  

We will never stop fighting for those people hungry for work because we have a duty to restore their basic dignity to be able to support their families. We encourage our colleagues to support this bill and call on Speaker Boehner and Majority Leader Cantor to bring this to a vote in the House as soon as possible. The Republican leadership has given a lot of lip service to creating jobs for our working class, but they have yet to even produce a plan. The clock is ticking for millions of Americans who desperately need this assistance. 

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