The U.S. House of Representatives passed emergency unemployment insurance extension legislation on Thursday to ensure unemployed workers continue to be able to make ends meet as they look for their next job opportunity. U.S. Congressman Bart Stupak (D-Menominee) voted in favor of H.R. 5618, the Restoration of Emergency Unemployment Compensation Act, which passed the House with bipartisan support. The legislation now goes to the U.S. Senate for consideration, where action is not expected until mid-July at the earliest.
"While we are seeing positive signs that the economy is starting to turn the corner, we are not there yet. This legislation will ensure Michigan families have the ability to put food on the table and pay their bills in the meantime," Stupak said. "Job creation must continue to be our first priority, but we cannot turn our backs on providing relief to families across northern Michigan and the nation in the process."
H.R. 5618 would extend the current expanded unemployment benefits through November 30, 2010 and restore benefits to individuals who may have recently lost their benefits.
Of the approximately 540,000 Michigan workers currently receiving unemployment assistance, nearly 60 percent will see their unemployment benefits exhausted by the end of the year without the extension that would be provided by H.R. 5618. That includes more than 26,000 individuals in the First Congressional District. With the extension, Michigan residents would remain eligible for a total of 99 weeks of benefits through November 30, 2010.
Legislation the House passed in May included the unemployment extension, along with other job creation provisions, but the Senate has been unable to muster the votes necessary to pass that legislation. In an effort to provide a bill that can obtain Senate approval and ensure workers do not lose their unemployment benefits, H.R. 5618 only addresses the unemployment extension.
"American families can't wait any longer for members of the Senate to set aside partisan bickering for something as important as extending critical unemployment insurance benefits," Stupak said. "It is my hope that the Senate can finally pass this bill. Their failure to pass this extension a month ago is inexcusable, but we are giving them a second chance to do the right thing."