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Thursday, July 22, 2010

Statement by President Obama on Signing the Unemployment Compensation Extension Act of 2010

After weeks (and seemingly months) of rangling between the House and Senate President Obama signed the unemployment insurance extension today.

At the signing, the president made these remarks: "Today, I signed the unemployment insurance extension to restore desperately needed assistance to two and a half million Americans who lost their jobs in the recession. After a partisan minority used procedural tactics to block the authorization of this assistance three separate times over the past weeks, Americans who are fighting to find a good job and support their families will finally get the support they need to get back on their feet during these tough economic times.

Now it’s time for Congress to act on more proposals that support our economic recovery, including passing critical aid to our states and support to small businesses, continued Obama. Small businesses are the engine of job growth, and measures to cut their taxes and make lending available should not be held hostage to partisan tactics like those that unconscionably held up unemployment insurance."

Republicans blocked the unemployment aid three separate times over the past weeks, a partisan move that could have cost millions of Americans the essential aid needed for rent and to feed their families. 

Republicans Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe both gave their support of the extension.

The bill will add 20 weeks of unemployment insurance, providing a much needed reprieve for the millions of out of work Americans.

Congress had debated on how the benefits would be paid.

In a White House briefing earlier in the week, Press Secretary Robert Gibbs likened the funding of the benefits extension to a family deciding how pay for college, or fixing a leaking roof.

"You make an investment in a college education not because you may have four years of tuition sitting in your savings account, but because you understand that it’s a better investment for the next day. Or if you came home and you had a leak in your roof, but you didn’t have the money to pay for it and the only thing you could do was borrow the money,  would you argue at the kitchen table that we ought to just -- everybody ought to just get wet until we can scrape together the money to pay for it, or should we deal with the emergency as it exists so that everybody doesn’t get rained on?

I think that might be a good lesson for Washington, that we all don’t just get rained on as 8.5 million people are out of work."

H.R. 4213, the “Unemployment Compensation Extension Act of 2010,” will extend the initial eligibility for emergency unemployment compensation and 100% Federal funding for extended unemployment insurance benefits through November 30, 2010.

A much needed gesture in a moment when U.S. unemployment levels stand at 9.5%, or higher in some states.

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