Last week the Senate failed to pass an extension of unemployment insurance. Nearly 1.3 million workers lost their unemployment insurance when the emergency program to help them expired on December 28th.
More than one-third of the unemployed have been out of work for more than 6 months. For each week that nothing is done, another 72,000 long-term jobless will lose their Unemployment Insurance, another 3.6 million by the end of 2014.
A total of 8,500 unemployed Granite Staters and 18,100 unemployed Mainers will lose their benefits by the end of 2014 according to information from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.
Two different bills came up for a vote in the Senate last week. Neither bill received the 60 votes necessary to overcome a filibuster and move forward.
One would have extended unemployment benefits for 11 months and paid for it by extending the existing 2 percent cuts to Medicare health providers by an additional year, to 2024. It failed 52 – 48.
The other bill would have extended unemployment benefits for three months at a cost of 6.4 billion dollars. It failed 55 – 45.
Senator Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire and Senator Susan Collins of Maine were among the Republican Senate members who voted against extending unemployment insurance. However, they did vote the very first time to allow the issue to be debated in the Senate and subsequent votes taken. We have a chance to convince them to do the right thing again.
Senators are in their home states this week and waiting to hear from their constituents. They have not been home since the checks stopped arriving for the first wave of the long-term unemployed.
Those missing checks are having a huge impact on the families who relied upon them for their basic needs. They are also having an impact on our local communities. The money from those checks is not being spent at the grocery stores in our towns and cities, not being spent on gas and propane and heating oil, not being spent on rent or mortgages.
When the Senators return to Washington they need to return having heard the voices loudly and clearly from their constituents about this issue and then vote to undue the harm that has been inflicted on the children, the families, and the communities of the long-term unemployed.
Every Child Matters and other statewide groups are asking you to call Senator Ayotte and Senator Collins tomorrow and tell them to do the right thing. Go back to work and protect those workers who want nothing more than to be able to do the same.
The number for Senator’s Ayotte’s Manchester office is: 603-622-7979
The number for Senator Susan Collins’ Portland office is: 207-780-3575.