As Rhode Islanders and people across the country continue struggling to find jobs in a recovering economy, the U.S. Senate today passed bipartisan legislation to put Americans back to work. The Hiring Incentives to Restore Employment (HIRE) Act, which will bring $225 million to Rhode Island for highway projects, has the potential to create and save over a million jobs this year nationwide. U.S. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), who has been a strong advocate for new legislation to address high unemployment, voted in favor of the bill. Whitehouse serves on the Senate Committee on Environment & Public Works which overseas federal highway programs.
"For Rhode Islanders still reeling in the wake of the massive job cuts brought on by the recession, this help cannot come soon enough," said Whitehouse. "The passage of the HIRE Act is an important step in continuing to build on the success of last year's Recovery Act, but it must not be the last. Too many Americans are hurting, and we should not rest until every person who wants a job has one."
The HIRE Act will extend federal highway funding though the end of the year, which will provide over $225 million for Rhode Island in 2010. In addition, it will provide a payroll tax holiday for businesses to encourage hiring, increased cash flow for small businesses that can be used for investments and payroll expansion, and an expansion of the Build America Bonds program to subsidize and encourage local infrastructure projects.
On Monday, Whitehouse participated in a press conference with Senators Cardin (D-MD) and Merkley (D-OR) to urge support for the HIRE Act. At the event, Whitehouse shared stories from Rhode Islanders frustrated with the lack of jobs and noted that "I've heard from hundreds of Rhode Islanders who are contacting my office and reaching out in support of new legislation to create jobs. And I feel honor bound to work as hard as I can to meet that trust." He went on to say that following passage of the Hire Act, we need to extend unemployment insurance and COBRA subsidies "to make sure that families who remain unemployed don't lose out on their ability to continue to pay their bills and keep their families on health insurance."