Long-term Unemployed Get Glimmer of Benefit Relief

The lifeline that many in the White House hoped would be forthcoming for the 1.3 million Americans who lost their Emergency Unemployment Compensation benefits on December 28, 2013 (which KRA Corporation highlighted in a recent blog post), emerged yesterday.

In a bill co-sponsored by Sen. Dean Heller (R-NV) and Sen. Jack Reed (D-RI), the Senate agreed by a vote of 60-37 to proceed with an action that would temporarily reinstate benefits for the long-term unemployed for another 3 months.

Tom Perez, the Department of Labor Secretary, was congratulatory of the move saying in a statement that, “Today’s Senate vote was the right thing to do – an important step toward providing critical relief to families in economic distress. And it was also the smart thing to do – because these benefits would provide an economic stimulus by putting more money in the pockets of working families.”

While originally looking as though the necessary 60 votes were not going to be reached, in addition to Heller and Reed, , five other Republicans—Kelly Ayotte (R-NH), Dan Coats (R-IN), Susan Collins (R-ME), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), and Rob Portman (R-OH)—voted in favor to move the bill forward for bipartisan consideration in the House.

This was an important step toward reinstating the much-needed relief for those who lost jobs “through no fault of their own”, but still face some opposition in the House where Republicans might still stop the bill’s passage based on the grounds that there are no budgetary spending cuts that match the projected $6.5 billion it will cost.

House Speaker, John Boehner (R-OH), as part of statement after the vote, pointed to why it might find resistance stipulating, “One month ago I personally told the White House that another extension of temporary emergency unemployment benefits should not only be paid for but include something to help put people back to work. To date, the President has offered no such plan. If he does, I’ll be happy to discuss it, but right now the House is going to remain focused on growing the economy and giving America’s unemployed the independence that only comes from finding a good job.”

Other opposition to the extension is also rooted in the belief that these benefits act as a means of slowing or stopping recipients from reentering the workforce. However, a White House report argues that removing these benefits would negatively impact existing jobs and employment in the U.S. states with lack of spending resulting in job cuts in states’ local businesses.

KRA Corporation is heartened by the actions of the Senate and remains hopeful that this benefit is reinstated to aid those unemployed jobseekers in weathering the economic climate while also bolstering the economy by helping businesses to retain employees.

As an organization dedicated to improving the lives of individuals and strengthening the communities in which we live, KRA Corporation looks forward to continuing our work in supporting the mission of federal, state, and local agencies to prepare job seekers for tomorrow’s global economy and supply employers with a trained and reliable workforce.