Photo: "Baby REBEL, "Bailout is BABBLE!"", N.Y., N.Y.: A. Golden, eyewash design - c. 2006.
Friends, it's official! The Senate just passed the expansion of federal jobless benefits, and there's every indication the President will sign it into law right away (see press release below).
Thanks to NELP and members of the Unemployed Worker's organization who put tremendous time and energy into this effort. Hundreds contributed their stories (and souls) to testify in Congress, appear before major events in D.C., and talk to reporters for all the major papers, to help ensure that Our elected officials do the right thing.
Our voices have been heard in Congress, with large numbers of calls and emails to those responsible for making the right call. These are incredibly tough times, but our actions led directly to the passage of this important extension and it goes a long way to help more than two million families get back on their feet, with a little more hope and determination to get by. For that, NELP thanks you!
Best wishes to you all,
Chris, Maurice, Judy, Andy, Debbie & Rick
NELP Applauds Today's Senate Action Providing Necessary Relief to Two Million Jobless Workers & the Struggling Economy
Today, the U.S. Senate passed legislation expanding jobless benefits for over two million workers who were scheduled to run out of their limited 13 weeks of federal assistance. The Senate adopted a measure passed overwhelmingly by the House of Representatives before the Congressional recess.
Christine Owens, the Executive Director of the National Employment Law Project said, "Today's significant action by Congress sends a message loud and clear to all the nation's families, not just those who now find themselves unemployed, that help is on the way." Ms. Owens continued, "We applaud Congress for taking this action, and we hope it's the first step of many necessary reforms that reflects the serious needs of everyday families and those communities hardest hit by the recession to help bring about an economic recovery. The President should sign the legislation right away to make sure the benefits are available without delay to all workers in need and the struggling economy."
According to state by state estimates prepared by NELP, today's action helps more than 1.16 million workers who have already run out of their limited 13 weeks of extended benefit or who were scheduled to do so before the end of the year during the holiday season. By March 2009, when the program expires, 2.11 million workers would have been left jobless without any additional federal assistance if Congress had not acted to expand the program of federal jobless benefits.
The measure passed by the Senate and the House of Representatives, the Unemployment Compensation Extension Act of 2008 (H.R. 6867), includes the following key provisions:
1. 20 Weeks for All States: Increases the basic 13 weeks of Emergency Unemployment Compensation (EUC), which was enacted in June, by 7 more weeks (to 20 weeks) for workers in all states.
2. 33 Weeks for High Unemployment States: Increases the basic 13 weeks of EUC by 20 weeks (to 33 weeks total) in states with unemployment rates over 6 percent (averaged over the latest three months). Nineteen states, plus the District of Columbia, now qualify for these extra weeks of EUC (Alaska, California, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Nevada, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee). More states will qualify for extra weeks of EUC when their rates of unemployment exceed the required 6-percent threshold (the new state unemployment numbers are released on Friday, November 21).
3. Extra Benefits Not Paid Retroactively: Workers who ran out of their EUC benefits in October and November will qualify for the additional weeks of EUC going forward provided they are still unemployed and looking for work. They do not qualify for additional weeks of EUC retroactively, that is, for the period between when the new law was enacted and their benefits previously expired.
4. EUC Deadline Still March 2009: The EUC will be available to workers who exhaust their state benefits before the end of March 2009. However, anyone who qualified before the deadline will continue to receive their full weeks of EUC benefits under the new program (with all benefits ending in August). Thus, Congress and the President will have to take up another extension of benefits early in 2009 before the program expires.
Live your values. Love your country.
And, remember: TOGETHER, We can make a DIFFERENCE!