Urgent Action Needed on Unemployment Programs

Congress is expected to again take up a year-end extension of the expanded federal unemployment insurance and COBRA subsidy programs as part of a larger measure that includes fiscal aid to states and other key safety net provisions.

More than 10 million jobless Americans currently receive unemployment insurance, including 5.4 million in the extended federal programs.

An extension of eligibility and funding for these programs through the end of 2010 had already passed the House and Senate earlier this year. But differences between the House and Senate versions had been holding up a final bill.

In April, meanwhile, another two-month emergency stopgap measure was approved by Congress and signed by President Obama, despite continuous obstructions from Senate Republicans. Those extensions, though, will expire on June 2.

The New York Times is now reporting that Congressional Democrats have negotiated a new version, which they intend to bring up in the House as early as Wednesday of this week.

The House, which in December narrowly passed a $154 billion stimulus package that hit a wall in the Senate, plans to debate a substitute of at least that size that Democratic Congressional leaders have negotiated; it would extend myriad popular business tax breaks and aid for the unemployed and hard-hit states.

In an action alert the National Employment Law Project (NELP) said:

Call on Congress to Extend Filing Deadline Through 2010.

Measure needed to provide for federal extensions, COBRA subsidies, and $25 weekly benefit supplement through the end of 2010

The latest stop-gap measure of federal extensions (including both the Emergency Unemployment Compensation and Extended Benefits programs), the additional $25 per week in everyone’s benefits check, and COBRA subsidies for jobless workers are set to expire on June 2, 2010. The House and Senate have been sitting on legislation that could extend these programs through the end of 2010 since March of this year. Time is running out, and the House is set to consider a compromise version of this bill this week. If passed, it will finally extend these programs through the end of the year. We are urging the House of Representatives take immediate action this week and make sure that federal UI and COBRA supplements are not allowed to expire.

Action is needed right now. Tell Congress to pass the year-end extensions of unemployment insurance and COBRA programs immediately!

NELP has a Congressional action page to contact your Representative.

Jobs for America Now also has an action page called “Finish the Job” that explains the bill and its programs, and lets you enter your phone number to be automatically connected to your Representative. Do it!

Or you can call Congress toll-free at 888-254-5087.

Tell Congress that one-month or two-month stopgap measures will not do. They need to pass the year-end federal unemployment eligibility extension this week.

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