Congresswoman Shelley Berkley today joined her colleagues on the House Ways and Means Committee and fellow Nevada Congresswoman Dina Titus at a news conference where she challenged Republicans to drop their opposition to an extension of unemployment benefits.
"Senate Republicans have turned their backs on Nevada families who are in search of jobs and in need of a helping hand by denying this extension. I challenge those on the other side of the aisle who are blocking these benefits to go without their paychecks and see how they pay the mortgage and utility bills," said Berkley. "When I am home in Las Vegas, I hear personally from men and women who have lost a job through no fault of their own and who rely on this assistance to pay the rent and buy groceries while they look for employment. As someone who represents the State with the nation's highest unemployment rate, I see the faces of those who have never been without work before and the fear in their eyes when they are told no more help is available through an unemployment insurance system that they have paid into for years."
Berkley pointed to the opposition of Senate Republicans as the number one reason that Congress has been unable to extend unemployment benefits for Nevadans who have exhausted their eligibility. The House, with Berkley's support, has repeatedly passed legislation that would extend unemployment assistance for the jobless in Nevada and nationwide. Senate Republicans, including Nevada's John Ensign, last blocked an extension package on June 24, 2010. As a result, Nevadans who had exhausted their benefits were denied additional unemployment assistance at a time when the Silver State continues to struggle with a 14% jobless rate. Nationwide, more than 2.1 million Americans have lost their unemployment benefits since June 5, and the number will grow to three million by the end of July if Congress does not act.