While Congressman Bill Owens voted in favor of extending unemployment benefits last week, unemployed Americans faced the July 4 weekend and beyond without the extension they had hoped for, as the measure failed to be approved in the Senate.
The Restoration of Emergency Unemployment Compensation Act, emergency legislation, passed the U.S. House of Representatives earlier in the week by a vote of 270-153. The bill would have extended unemployment insurance to an estimated 143,000 New Yorkers that were scheduled to lose their benefits by Saturday, July 3.
But the legislation failed to pass the Senate.
“These benefits are critical to hard-working Upstate New York families as the unemployed in our community continue to search for work during the worst economic climate our nation has seen since the Great Depression,” Owens said. “This legislation is urgently needed after weeks of partisan politics have stood in the way of middle-class families who have lost their jobs because of the recession. Upstate New Yorkers are concerned with spending time with their families and putting food on the table, not who scores the most political points in Washington, and I urge for the bill’s swift passage in the Senate.”
The bill would have extended the Emergency Unemployment Compensation (EUC) and Extended Benefits programs through November 30, 2010. This would retroactively restore benefits to people who may have started losing their benefits as early as the end of May.
The current lapse in extended benefits is unprecedented. Since 1959, the government has never allowed extended unemployment benefits to expire when the national unemployment rate is still above 7.2 percent. The current rate stands at 9.7 percent.