Who Is Blocking Emergency Jobless Aid Extension?

According to Reuters, attempts by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) to move an emergency unemployment aid extension in the Senate are being thwarted:

Reid had hoped to quickly pass a short-term extension of unemployment benefits for more than a million people to ensure they are not terminated at the end of February, but Republican Senator Jim Bunning blocked it.

Policy advocates on Capitol Hill this morning confirmed that Sen. Bunning (R-KY) is currently holding up an emergency measure to extend the expanded federal support for unemployment insurance and COBRA subsidies set to expire in three days.

A spokesman for Senator Bunning said this morning that Bunning had objected to Senator Reid’s unanimous consent request to proceed on the measure, citing a dispute over how it should be funded.

Kentucky’s jobless rate, which exceeds the national average, increased to 10.7% in December, the last month of available state statistics. Numerous counties in Kentucky report unemployment rates of 13% or more, as can be seen on this Washington Post interactive map of unemployment rates by state and county. (click on the map to zoom in)
Several counties in rural eastern Kentucky have jobless rates of 15% or higher, including Magoffin County at 21.4%.

As we have been reporting here for weeks one million unemployed Americans will lose their extended benefits and COBRA health insurance subsidies immediately if Congress fails to act before February 28.

And while Senate Majority Leader Reid is working on a larger, year-long jobless benefits extension, the emergency one-month extension needed right now is being blocked by Republican Senator Bunning.

Call Senator Bunning’s office at 202-224-4343. Tell Senator Bunning to stop blocking the emergency jobless benefits extension for the more than 221,000 out-of-work Kentuckians and the millions of jobless Americans across the country.

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