Democrats try to increase pressure on unemployment benefits
March 12th, 2014
05:29 PM ET
5 months ago

Democrats try to increase pressure on unemployment benefits

Washington (CNN) – Nearly three months after extended unemployment benefits expired, Democrats tried to ratchet up pressure on the issue with dozens of lawmaker signatures and a line of Congressmen marching together into the House Chamber.

“Do the right thing, Mr. Speaker: give us a vote,” Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi of California told reporters Wednesday, as she and dozens of her party members prepared to file a discharge petition in the House, aimed at forcing a House vote on an unemployment insurance extension.

Despite the intentionally strong visuals of Democrats filing into their chamber en masse, their move was largely symbolic and is not expected to break the logjam on the issue.

To trigger a vote, discharge petitions must be signed by an absolute majority of the House of Representatives. That is 218 members currently. But Democrats have just 199 in their caucus. The move is more of a way for Democrats to continue raising the issue and accusing Republicans of inaction in a high-stakes midterm election year.

Republicans have expressed doubts about whether unemployment insurance encourages people to stay out of the workforce, but their main objection to extending benefits has been the funding. House Speaker John Boehner has consistently said any unemployment extension must “be paid for” with spending cuts. In the Senate, negotiations are similarly stymied over how to pay for an extension despite participation from key members in both parties.

Democrats contend that unemployment benefits help the economy because the unemployed are likely to spend the money immediately. But their main charge this year has been emotional, pointing to real-world stories of struggle.

At Wednesday’s event, 82-year-old Rep. Sander Levin, D-Michigan, slowly twisted off his own wedding ring as he read a Craigslist ad from someone who was selling their own wedding and engagement rings last week. His staff said that the ad clearly listed expiring unemployment benefits as the reason. (The link to the ad had expired when CNN checked.)

“We need to act,” he said.


Filed under: Congress • Democrats • Nancy Pelosi • unemployment
soundoff (66 Responses)
  1. Tracey Wright

    I have worked steady for the past 26 years. The last company I was with for 21 years. In all that time I collected unemployment for a 5 month period. Went back to work in another division of that company that closed after 18 months.
    Never collected disability in 26 years. Now I search daily for jobs, sending resumes, posting on several job search sites
    get updates all day long. At the age of 51 I feel employers are not wanting to hire someone they would have to pay more because of the years of experience. I WANT TO WORK! If UIB is not extended it will devastate me. No money for gas, car insurance. Utilities. Sadly I am now coming to terms that I may have to surrender my dog and cat if I cant feed or care for them. COME ON PEOPLE WE PAID INTO THIS. DO WHATS RIGHT BY THE AMERICAN PEOPLE.
    CHARITY STARTS AT HOME....BUT THIS ISNT CHARITY WE PAID INTO THIS. IN A DAY YOU SEND BILLIONS TO OTHER COUNTRIES. HELP IS NEEDED BADLY FOR THE PEOPLE OF THE GOOD OLE USA.

    March 12, 2014 05:44 pm at 5:44 pm |
  2. ED1

    Like you did with Obamacare pass the bill so we can see what's in big mistake that will cost us 2 Trillion not the 900 Billion Obama said it would.

    Spend what you have but the Democrats don't know how to do that.

    Don't give me any BS about Bush and his unfunded war so me one war that was funded that's right -0-.

    March 12, 2014 05:47 pm at 5:47 pm |
  3. Gurgyl

    Push it, yes, those war mongrels idiots want to aide packages to Ukraine, why not help at home?

    March 12, 2014 05:53 pm at 5:53 pm |
  4. EDDIE

    Im gonna lose my car and that's going to make it that much harder to get a job ,stop playing with my familys life ,IS THIS THE AMERICAN WAY

    March 12, 2014 06:04 pm at 6:04 pm |
  5. ByHisGrace

    I feel as though I've been kicked in the gut! Again.......!

    March 12, 2014 06:06 pm at 6:06 pm |
  6. loretta graham

    go ahead Senators. go on vacation again and leave us poor people in the dark. Why vote any more when you do whatever you want and not worry about the voters

    March 12, 2014 06:09 pm at 6:09 pm |
  7. Randy, San Francisco

    Republican conservative family values position on extending unemployment would make Scrooge and 19th century sweat and work shop owners proud.

    March 12, 2014 06:25 pm at 6:25 pm |
  8. wendel

    keep the pressure on. These phoney congressmen would be the first in line to collect benefits. They make a big stink as they get all the bennies the job offers and then some. Vote them all ou they have done nothing in five years but sat on their asses and voted 50 times to repeal the affordable care act. God forbid some thing to help the American people might get passed!!

    March 12, 2014 06:27 pm at 6:27 pm |
  9. Smitty

    Why don't the dems work on jobs??? Why don't they work on fixing Oblunder care ??? More diversions away from what a total failure this admin has been.

    March 12, 2014 06:29 pm at 6:29 pm |
  10. Anonymous

    Typical out-of-touch political nonsense. Yet another week off for these guys. They've had like three breaks since December already. They talk about the unemployed being lazy and not trying hard enough, and yet privileged arrogant guys, can't even but in the extra effort to take a vote... They go home to their nice house and fancy resorts, while millions of Americans are getting foreclosed on, evicted, without utilities and food.

    March 12, 2014 06:35 pm at 6:35 pm |
  11. Jan Nappylotto

    But the Democrats have said the economy has had a spectacular recovery! Why do people need unemployment benefits when the unemployment rate has fallen so low?

    March 12, 2014 06:43 pm at 6:43 pm |
  12. Rick McDaniel

    Simply more corruption, more trying to make law by circumventing Congress, and MORE ILLEGAL ACTIVITIES BY DEMOCRATS!

    March 12, 2014 06:47 pm at 6:47 pm |
  13. steven

    if you need you then you need to hold your congressman accountable for signing the petition. call your congressman

    March 12, 2014 06:51 pm at 6:51 pm |
  14. Now a Nobody

    It's been 18 months since I was laid off (after being a working tax payer for 27 years). I've sold everything of value, borrowed from family and friends, used my entire savings and 401k, foreclosed on my home, filed bankruptcy, and recently moved to another state with better opportunities (away from my two children) all in the name of finding a job. I've had better luck with getting interviews (3 in 4 months) but today I received two more denial emails. I've been living with my son.. who's in college on a full ride scholarship (which includes room and board... thank God).

    I'm so tired of worrying how to survive and miss my two other children like crazy... I really don't see this improving either.. at least not until our government is thrown out on theasses to fend for themselves.h

    March 12, 2014 06:52 pm at 6:52 pm |
  15. donald

    i could use a little extra money.

    March 12, 2014 07:03 pm at 7:03 pm |
  16. Chris-E...al

    ED1 @ You are so right bud . We are still paying for a unfunded Dem war in Korea that they started an still rolls on today thats cost atleast 50.000 lives and trillions in our treasure . But they forgot about an lost that war and let the north get the nuke . But what can we do ? vote em 0ut !

    March 12, 2014 07:09 pm at 7:09 pm |
  17. Chris-E...al

    Vote the dems out if they dont us all killd befor we get the chance to id rather be poor and alive than dead an dead !. . .

    March 12, 2014 07:16 pm at 7:16 pm |
  18. jenn,philadelphia

    I say extend the benefits. And then send Nancy and the rest of her Congressional friends to the long lines for collecting them.

    March 12, 2014 07:21 pm at 7:21 pm |
  19. Name jk. Sfl. GOP CRUZ lee&rubio 24billion dallar LOSS of your tax money conservatives,the garbage of America.

    The GOP has NO intention of helping ANYBZoDY unless your an oil company owned by the croch brothers or General Electric which PAYS 0 taxes, why is that????????

    March 12, 2014 07:24 pm at 7:24 pm |
  20. Brandy Newlan

    Would love for some senators to be in our place with 3 kids and been with out since 1st of January. Now come monday my electric is up for disconect for only 102.00 and we don't have 10.00 to our name and with 3 small kids Birthdays this month its had to expain to kids that there will be no party or presents for there B-Day.

    March 12, 2014 07:46 pm at 7:46 pm |
  21. ramelle tuggle

    Please help me live.

    March 12, 2014 08:11 pm at 8:11 pm |
  22. Anonymous

    This is so sad. I also have worked 40 years, 32 with the same company. I am 56 years old. I have put numerous applications in every day. I still have school-age children. I have a mortgage, a car payment. I do not live a life of luxury. I live within my means. I am about to lose my car, my home and yes, I have taken a loan out on my wedding and engagement rings to make ends meet. I had no balances on my 2 credit cards. I am now living off them to feed my family. n a couple weeks, a proud middle-class parent who worked hard for everything, will lose everything. The unemployment was a crutch to keep us treading with our heads just above water. When I lose my car, I cannot go to an interview. I go to the library with my kids, we cancelled our internet to save money. How can people of the United States be brought to this level. My kids are taking soft pretzels to school for lunch because I can buy 3 for $1.89. I am so upset with the stalling of this extension.

    March 12, 2014 08:12 pm at 8:12 pm |
  23. vic1

    I agree with tracy people paid in I been paying since I was 14 dont take it out of people's pay if they cant use it why dont they go 3 months with nothing you wonder why got pan handlers people shouldn't have to sell their their wedding rings to eat its a terrible thing to treat people who worked all thrir life and through no fault of their own lost their job and can't find one cause of their age and experience

    March 12, 2014 08:20 pm at 8:20 pm |
  24. Steven

    As with many unemployed Americans today, I have numerous questions and concerns regarding the recent decisions made by congress to fail to come to a resolution on this matter. I was recently forced to accept the fact that in order to help me through this difficult time of trying to find a new, I would need to apply for unemployment benefits. I have worked for over 28 years of my life without accepting any unemployment benefits, for the fact the I was either employed or refused to do so and thought that finding a new job was a better alternative. Unfortunately due to the recent economic environment and the downsizing of my industry I found myself applying for something that I thought I would never need. Prior to my unemployment I had already downsized my monthly budget by over 35%, due to our economic environment of the last several years, and even at that I was still required to utilize 60% of my own personal assets on top of the monthly unemployment benefit in order to make ends meet. Now as not only my personal retirement assets have been depleted, my unemployment benefit has been cut. I have been actively pursing jobs, however none of the jobs that I am pursuing actually pay me 50% of what I was making prior to loosing my job. This has left me no choice but to contact my bank and to turn my home over to them, cut all spending on utilities, and apply for food stamps and medicade, this once prosperous and Midlleclass business owner who contributed over $1,500,000.00 into the federal and state government unemployment program for the last 28 years, is now going to be placed on food stamps & medicade in order to survive, and forced into foreclosure, and bankruptcy.

    I cannot fathom that a country that I have helped to support for over 28 years would turn its back on a contributing citizen. This country would rather spend Billions supporting other countries and the citizens of those countries who have never and will never give anything back to the US

    March 12, 2014 08:40 pm at 8:40 pm |
  25. richie c

    with all the entitlement funds spent in this country you would think that our political leaders would want to help the people who want to get back to work. unlike the one's who never have! OR WILL!!!!!

    March 12, 2014 08:44 pm at 8:44 pm |
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