Unemployment benefits expire, Dems vow to fight on
December 28th, 2013
01:52 PM ET
4 months ago

Unemployment benefits expire, Dems vow to fight on

(CNN) - Long-term unemployment benefits for 1.3 million Americans expired Saturday after Congress failed to pass an extension. Reinstating those benefits is expected to be one of the first priorities for congressional Democrats in the new year.

“Extending unemployment insurance is the right thing to do for millions of Americans who are trying to support their families,” Democratic National Committee chairwoman and Florida Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz said in a statement Saturday. “What makes matters worse, the loss of benefits comes just a few days after the holidays.”

Like most Democrats, Wasserman Schultz laid the blame for the expiring benefits - now reverting back to 26 weeks of coverage - squarely at the feet of congressional Republicans.

Many Republicans have in turn argued that the extended emergency federal benefits - passed during the Great Recession - are a disincentive for job hunting and are no longer necessary as the economy improves and unemployment ticks down.

Rand Paul: Extending jobless benefits a 'disservice' to workers

Unemployment isn’t going down fast enough, say Democrats. They argue that without the extended benefits, recipients will severely curtail their spending and be a drag on the economy.

“As we continue our work to create more good paying jobs, it is essential that we extend unemployment benefits to the millions of American families who still need and rely on them,” Wasserman Schultz said.

President Barack Obama also weighed in Friday, according to the White House. In a phone call to Sens. Jack Reed, D-Rhode Island, and Dean Heller, R-Nevada, Obama voiced his own support for reinstating the prolonged unemployment benefits, the goal of a bill co-sponsored by the two men. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has pledged to take the benefits up as soon as the chamber returns from its break early next month.

Heller has been one of the few Republicans to vocally support extending the benefits – although House Speaker John Boehner has expressed some willingness to negotiate on the matter.

In a statement announcing his extension bill, Heller argued that “providing a safety net for those in need is one of the most important functions of the federal government.”

“As Nevada’s unemployment rate continues to top the charts nationwide, many families and individuals back home do not know how they are going to meet their basic needs,” Heller said.

A number of Democrats also took to Twitter on Saturday to argue for extending the benefits.

–CNNMoney's Emily Jane Fox, Annalyn Kurtz and Jennifer Liberto contributed to this report.


Filed under: Congress • unemployment
soundoff (105 Responses)
  1. AndISayThis

    Those of you who were taken by surprise by the EUC expiration date can blame no one but yourselves for not staying informed. 12/28/13 was the end date set the last time they extended the program. The approaching deadline had been covered by various news outlets for more than a month. Did you think they were going to last forever?

    Secondly, to those asking why the Dems want to extend EUC if the economy is better- have you questioned the Republican stance at all? I.e. if Obama and his policies have been so terrible for the US economy, why don't they back up their statements by providing for those who they say are suffering for it?

    I personally think that the extensions should end soon if not now, and that jobs should become available for those losing benefits by penalizing off-shoring and companies that force taxpayers to subsidize their poorly-paid employees. And mandate E-Verify. A good company should still be able to turn a profit without screwing hard-working US citizens via these methods.

    December 29, 2013 07:37 pm at 7:37 pm |
  2. Sniffit

    If they extend it I will quit my job and go on it! Someone can have my job

    December 29, 2013 08:29 pm at 8:29 pm |
  3. WeAreAlmostCyprus

    After 99 weeks, I think it's safe to say that it is no longer called "jpbless benefits," but rather, it's just plain old WELFARE!!! A reward for NOT working, and instead voting Democrat.

    December 29, 2013 08:35 pm at 8:35 pm |
  4. tom l

    To show you how phony the unemployment figure is you need look no further than these comments because the ones who say they have been unemployed for over 2 years no longer count towards the statistic. You guys are not unemployed according to the govt and people like Tampa Tim. You don't count. And here's another awesome thing about that sfat: let's say you decide to take a part time job after 1 year. You,too, are no longer considered unemployed. You have a job and now looked at as fully employed by someone like Rudy or rs. Do you feel fully employed?

    December 29, 2013 09:04 pm at 9:04 pm |
  5. S. B. Stein

    The fact that the UI benefits put more into the economy than it costs show that they work. It keeps people from becoming destitute. That is a very important thing.

    December 29, 2013 09:29 pm at 9:29 pm |
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