An extension of critical unemployment and health insurance benefits for unemployed Maine workers became much more likely this week after the Senate voted yesterday to stop a filibuster that had been blocking the legislation.
Congresswoman Chellie Pingree today welcomed the Monday vote and said Maine Senators Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins deserve credit for helping move the legislation forward.
"Senators Snowe and Collins were an important part of a bipartisan effort to extend critical benefits," Pingree said. "For the last week, thousands of Maine people who have been unemployed for months have gone without the benefits they need to support their families during this tough economic time. Not only do these benefits help families make ends meet until they get back onto their feet, it's also money that goes directly into the local economy--so it's important the extension is passed."
The House voted unanimously to approve legislation on March 17 that would continue extended unemployment benefits and COBRA insurance subsidies for another month. It did not come to a vote in the Senate before its April recess, which ended on Monday, and the benefits began running out March 31. Pingree said she hopes the Senate continues to move forward on extending the benefits.
"We need to continue this bipartisanship as we act to get Americans back to work and to make sure we don't pull the rug out from under them in the meantime," Pingree said.
The Senate vote yesterday for cloture allows the body to debate and vote on the legislation.