Payne Applauds Senate for Taking First Step Toward Extending Unemployment Insurance

Newark, N.J. – Today, Congressman Donald M. Payne, Jr. (NJ-10) issued the following statement after the Senate voted to begin consideration of a bipartisan three-month extension of unemployment insurance (S. 1845) on a vote of 60 to 37: 

“I applaud the Senate for taking the necessary first step toward restoring unemployment insurance for the 1.3 million Americans, including 90,000 New Jerseyans, who were dropped from long-term unemployment on December 28,” said Rep. Payne, Jr.  “Although this is a small victory for the hundreds of thousands of New Jerseyans struggling to make ends meet while they desperately search for a job, we must keep the pressure on so that this temporary extension passes in the Senate, and the House follows suit.  Doing nothing is not an option.”

At the end of December, 1.3 million Americans lost unemployment insurance, including 90,300 New Jerseyans, when the program expired, and that number will grow with 3,400 additional New Jerseyans losing benefits every week in the first half of 2014.

“Those receiving unemployment insurance paid into the system, lost their jobs through no fault of their own, and are required by law to continue to look for work. They aren’t living high on the hog. They would rather have a secure paycheck than barely scrape by, and we owe them the fighting chance to find a job and take care of their families again.  Make no mistake about it, it is the responsibility of Congress to work together and pass a jobs bill that will put these hardworking people back to work. But in the meantime, we have a moral obligation to care for our fellow Americans so that they can continue to feed their families, keep a roof over their heads, and avoid slipping into poverty.”

The federal unemployment insurance program – formally called Emergency Unemployment Compensation – took effect in 2008, was signed by President George W. Bush, and has been reauthorized several times as the economy continues to recover. Despite the real progress the economy has made since its near collapse in 2008, there are still over 1 million fewer jobs than there were before the recession and more than 4 million Americans have been out of work for six months or longer.  On average, nationwide, the program provides about $300 a week to recipients. 

Additionally, failure to extend federal unemployment insurance will hurt job growth locally and throughout the nation, costing the economy 240,000 jobs this year, according to the White House Council of Economic Advisers, including nearly 20,000 jobs in New Jersey alone.

“As we mark the 50th Anniversary of the War on Poverty this week, it would be unconscionable if House Republicans did not extend unemployment insurance,” stated Rep. Payne, Jr.  “American families deserve better as our economy continues to recover from the worst economic recession since the Great Depression.”