U.S. Sen. Mark Begich issued a statement today in response to an attempt in the Senate by one lawmaker to block the extension of unemployment benefits and COBRA benefits for 30 days. Retiring Sen. Jim Bunning (R - KY) has refused to allow the Senate to adopt the legislation by unanimous consent. Without congressional action, federal authorization for the benefits expires on Sunday night
"It is irresponsible that a single senator would add to the economic uncertainty of thousands of Alaska families by standing in the way of a bipartisan compromise to extend unemployment benefits and health insurance benefits. I won't sit idly by while the protest of one member harms the more than 40,600 Alaskans currently receiving these benefits.
"Agreement on a temporary extension of these benefits was negotiated by both political parties. This filibuster leaves millions of unemployed Americans in worse financial shape, erodes confidence in our economy and hurts their ability to find gainful employment.
"Last night, I stayed on the Senate floor during the filibuster. As the clock approached 10 p.m., I spoke in opposition to this delay citing an Eagle River resident who has applied for 30 jobs. His search for work has resulted in just two interviews and no offers.
"With an 8.8 percent unemployment rate, Alaska joins every other state with alarming unemployment statistics. I stand with Alaskans and other Americans who want to find work and support their families. As America attempts to emerge from a recession, people are looking for work, not handouts, and denying them support now would be a grave disservice. These political games must end."