Today, President Obama called on Congress to extend critical unemployment insurance to millions of Americans looking for a job. The U.S. Senate on Tuesday will vote on extending unemployment benefits for Americans still struggling to find work and overcome the lingering effects of the recession. In the three previous efforts, Senate Republicans have blocked the extension of emergency relief for the unemployed. Across the country, this stonewalling has already blocked assistance to 2.5 million Americans, and hundreds of thousands more are impacted by each additional week of delay.
The President also highlighted that many Republicans have previously supported unemployment extensions under Republican administrations but refuse to offer relief to middle class families today. Many of these Republicans want to extend hundreds of billions of dollars in tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans while telling working families that we can’t afford to help them when they need it most.
At the White House, the President was joined by three Americans in need of the extension who shared their story:
Jim Chukalas, from Fredon Township, NJ, was laid off as a parts manager at a Honda dealership in 2008. He ran out of Tier III benefits and his Tier IV expired two weeks ago because Congress has failed to act. Jim has persistently searched for work and fights to keep his spirits up for his family’s sake.
Denise Gibson from Queens, NY, was laid off as a maintenance supervisor in January and has been receiving unemployment insurance benefits since February. She will receive the benefits only until August unless the extension is passed. She is currently late on her rent and due back in housing court in early August. She is interviewing for jobs and has plans to go to nursing school later this year.
Leslie Macko, from Charlottesville, VA, lost her job as an aesthetician in 2009. She received, and exhausted, Virginia unemployment compensation benefits. She has also exhausted her Tier I benefits and had 4.9 weeks of Tier II EUC for which she is eligible. However, there has been a 6-week delay in the Tier II benefits and once she receives these benefits, she will not be eligible for additional unemployment insurance. She has persistently searched for work, and continues to do so. To pay her rent, utilities, food, and other expenses she has had to borrow money from her father on a monthly basis.
Click here to watch President Obama's remarks from this morning.