or Login to see your representatives.

Access Candidates' and Representatives' Biographies, Voting Records, Interest Group Ratings, Issue Positions, Public Statements, and Campaign Finances

Simply enter your zip code above to get to all of your candidates and representatives, or enter a name. Then, just click on the person you are interested in, and you can navigate to the categories of information we track for them.

Public Statements

Letter To Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Senate Finance Chairman, Max Baucus

Senators Urge Extension of COBRA and Unemployment Benefits

A group of 31 senators today sent a letter to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Senate Finance Chairman Max Baucus urging an extension of unemployment benefits and eligibility for the COBRA Premium Assistance Program through December 31, 2010. The letter urged swift action on providing relief for unemployed Americans.

"As our nation continues to battle double digit unemployment rates, we must act right away to continue vital safety net coverage for the American family," the senators wrote.

Statistics show that nearly 40 percent of the unemployed -- more than 6.1 million people -- have been out of work for six months or longer. Many of those individuals and their families lost their health coverage when they lost their jobs. On average, a monthly health care premium payment to cover a family costs $1,111, which is 83.4% of the average unemployment check.

"Based on these figures, Congress must extend unemployment benefits and eligibility for the COBRA Premium Assistance Program through the end of the year," the senators continued. "Short term extensions, while still helpful to families, only add strain to state agencies that must constantly re-tool their computer systems, and at the same time, continue to assist the millions still searching for work. As our economy continues on a path to recovery, we need a robust extension of safety net programs that have provided a lifeline to families since the recession began."

The senators urged quick action on the extension of the unemployment insurance provisions in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act through December 31, 2010, including the Emergency Unemployment Compensation Program, full federal funding of the Extended Benefit program, an increase of $25 per week in state and federal benefits and the suspension of the federal income tax on an individual's first $2,400 of unemployment benefits. In addition, the senators urged the extension of the eligibility period of the COBRA Premium Assistance Program through December 31, 2010.

Last month, the Senate approved an extension of both programs through the end of February.

Full text of the letter is below.

Dear Majority Leader Reid and Chairman Baucus,

We are writing to urge an extension of unemployment benefits and eligibility for the COBRA Premium Assistance Program through December 31, 2010. As our nation continues to battle double digit unemployment rates, we must act right away to continue vital safety net coverage for the American family.

We appreciate your leadership in December in securing a two-month extension to both of these programs in the Department of Defense Appropriations bill. But recent employment numbers are an indication that we must immediately extend jobless benefits and health assistance for individuals and families squeezed in this tighter economy. Nearly 40 percent of the unemployed -- more than 6.1 million people -- have been out of work for six months or longer. The average duration of unemployment is now at 29.1 weeks.

What is more, many of those individuals and their families lost their health coverage when they lost their jobs. On average, a monthly healthcare premium payment to cover a family costs $1,111, which represents 83.4% of the average unemployment check. In some states, the average unemployment check is less than the cost of a monthly healthcare plan premium.

Based on these figures, Congress must extend unemployment benefits and eligibility for the COBRA Premium Assistance Program through the end of the year. Short term extensions, while still helpful to families, only add strain to state agencies that must constantly re-tool their computer systems, and at the same time, continue to assist the millions still searching for work. As our economy continues on a path to recovery, we need a robust extension of safety net programs that have provided a lifeline to families since the recession began.

We urge quick action on the extension of the unemployment insurance provisions in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act through December 31, 2010, including the Emergency Unemployment Compensation Program, full federal funding of the Extended Benefit program, an increase of $25 per week in state and federal benefits, and the suspension of the federal income tax on an individual's first $2,400 of unemployment benefits. In addition, we must also extend the eligibility period of the COBRA Premium Assistance Program through December 31, 2010.

Due to the importance of these issues, we respectfully request a meeting with you to discuss how we can provide for an extension of both programs. We thank you for your consideration of our request. All of our offices are committed to ensuring our constituents are able to properly provide for their families during this difficult time.

Sincerely,

Bob Casey (D-PA)

Jack Reed (D-RI)

Tom Harkin (D-IA)

Sherrod Brown (D-OH)

Christopher J. Dodd (D-CT)

Jay Rockefeller (D-WV)

Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH)

Al Franken (D-MN)

Carl Levin (D-MI)

Frank R. Lautenberg (D-NJ)

Debbie Stabenow (D-MI)

Roland W. Burris (D-IL)

Arlen Specter (D-PA)

John F. Kerry (D-MA)

Kirsten E. Gillibrand (D-NY)

Ron Wyden (D-OR)

Edward E. Kaufman (D-DE)

Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI)

Barbara Boxer (D-CA)

Bernard Sanders (I-VT)

Patrick J. Leahy (D-VT)

Robert Menendez (D-NJ)

Herb Kohl (D-WI)

Tom Udall (D-NM)

Benjamin L. Cardin (D-MD)

Robert C. Byrd (D-WV)

Daniel Akaka (D-HI)

Jeff Merkley (D-OR)

Barbara Mikulski (D-MD)

Dianne Feinstein (D-CA)

Michael Bennet (D-CO)


Source:
Back to top