Federal Unemployment Extension – Do Not Sit Idly By, Gently Nudge Your Senators – February 7, 2010
If you’ve read any of the questions I’ve answered about Unemployment extensions .. you might have noticed I’m as confused as the next person.
But I do know of some people who aren’t and they need all our help to make sure our US Senators do not delay passing another bill to extend benefits again, including the extra $25 a week and the COBRA subsidy for healthcare benefits.
You need to let your senators that make decisions which affect our lives that now is not the time to create another fiasco as was created with the last benefit extension due to delay tactics. They even give you the link to make it easy to do.
Ever since that fiasco late last fall, I’ve been trying to find myself one of those, not implausible bumper stickers, that says something about my dog being smarter than politicians:)
I’ll just copy and paste the email I received from NELP (National Employment Law Project) and I hope everyone who reads this .. sends the email.
Here it is ..
Friends – we have a lot to report this week, as there is action on many fronts, most of it very positive.
The Extension Heats Up
First and foremost, the Senate is ready to introduce a bill that would extend the federal UI programs (EUC, EB and the extra $25 per week) and the COBRA subsidy through the end of May. We are disappointed that it’s not a longer extension and are not going to stop calling for the program to be extended through the end of the year, but this is good news in the short term because it keeps the programs up and running, and guards against 1.2 million people losing their benefits in March alone. The new NELP analysis, released on Thursday, shows that almost 10 million workers will prematurely lose out on their federal benefits if the program is not extended through the year.
Senate leadership is hoping to get the bill to the Senate floor next week, have an expedited debate, and pass it in enough time to get it over the House of Representative so that both Chambers of Congress can pass it before they recess on February 12. This will ensure that the state unemployment offices keep the programs up and running without any interruption.
The Actions You Can Take We want to make sure that no procedural games or delaying tactics slow down the passage of this bill. Those in favor of the bill need to know that they cannot let anything derail it, and those who are not supportive need to know that NOW is not the time for games or delaying – this bill must pass. Therefore, EVERY Senator needs to hear from his or her constituents one way or another. Make your voice heard by participating in our Action Alert here. Please share this action alert widely with your friends, family and other networks of people concerned with the plight of the unemployed.
The Message: Your Senators need to know: 1. It remains important to extend UI and COBRA through the end of 2010 because we all know that unemployment will remain high throughout the rest of the year; 2. While this bill doesn’t go far enough, at least it keeps the programs up and running – they MUST pass this next week, in time for the House to do the same. You will not accept any procedural maneuvers or games from either party that result in any failure to pass this Bill in a timely fashion; 3. There is NO BETTER economic stimulus for the communities in which you live and that the benefits you receive and spend will both save and create jobs.
Day of Action – next Wednesday, February 10th: In addition to using the link provided above, we are working closely with the Jobs for American Now coalition,www.jobs4americanow.org , to organize a National Day of Action to call for a year-long extension of UI and COBRA. We will be posting information on this website and sending you an email with all the information you need to take part in that Day of Action. The over 60 member organization will be working to mobilize unemployed workers and constituencies from around the country and we hope the over 20,000 of you who are members of this website will lend your voices to the campaign.
ADDITIONAL RELEVANT INFORMATION:
The President’s Budget In other news, on Monday, the Obama Administration released its proposed budget for Fiscal Year 2011 (October 1, 2010 – September 31, 2011). In that budget, close to $50 billion million is allocated for UI benefits extensions, and also allocated funds necessary to cover the 15-month COBRA subsidy for workers who lost their jobs prior to January 1, 2011 http://www.treas.gov/offices/tax-policy/library/greenbk10.pdf . Although the funding for the extensions should have been greater for the measure to last through the end of the year, the President’s budget signals This signals strong support for unemployed workers and the extension from the Administration and now puts the burden on Congress to do the right thing.
New Housing Legislation Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) is also working hard on behalf of unemployed workers. He introduced the Homeowners’ Relief and Neighborhood Stabilization Act, which would provide $3 billion in loans for the unemployed and underemployed who are struggling to keep up with their mortgage payments. You can find out more about this bill by clicking here
New Debit Card Protections Finally, many people have begun receiving UI benefits via a prepaid debit card over the last year or so. In general, NELP believes that this is a good option for many workers, especially those who do not have bank accounts, but that workers should be given a choice of whether to get benefits via check, direct deposit, or debit card, and if the debit cards are used by states, then they need to contain adequate consumer protections to make sure that the banks issuing the cards don’t charge unfair fees for the services offered. We have partnered with a few other organizations to help design a bill introduced by Congressman Sander Levin (D-MI), H.R. 4522, The Benefit Card Fairness Act), that would make sure these cards are used only voluntarily and would have adequate consumer protections. You can find the full text of the bill at this here .
Thanks for reading all the way to the end of this long email – we want to make sure we’re keeping you fully apprised of what is happening in D.C. We will likely be posting additional daily updates through the end of next week, as well as sending out at least one or two more emails, so check back daily.
Your friends at unemployedworkers.org,
Andriette, Andy, Christine, Debbie, George, Judy, Maurice, Rick, and Tiphany
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