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Ms. WASSERMAN SCHULTZ. Mr. Speaker, I rise today in firm opposition to this motion to go to conference without a vote on the Senate bill to extend the payroll tax cut and unemployment benefits. It is deeply disappointing and troubling that we'll be denied the opportunity to vote on the Senate's overwhelmingly bipartisan compromise that would bring relief to millions of America's working families.
Now, my Republican colleagues have said: Pass the 1-year bill that passed the House last week.
Well, talk to your Republican colleagues in the Senate. Four times the Senate Democrats tried to bring up your bill, and four times a Senate Republican objected. Facts are hard.
If we do not pass this bill, 160 million Americans will face a $1,000 tax increase as we go into the new year. If we do not act, in my home State, 9 million Floridians will see this tax increase next year. If we do not act, 2.2 million unemployed Americans will lose their unemployment benefits. And if we do not act, 48 million seniors will face the specter of having to find new doctors due to cuts to Medicare reimbursement rates.
Like many of my colleagues, I have received countless constituent calls, letters, and emails, many of them very personal and emotional.
Just this morning, I was especially moved by a note from a single mom, Christine, with a 3-year-old daughter, from my congressional district. She wrote: I am pleading my case to you out of desperation to extend unemployment insurance.
These benefits help her provide food and necessities for her daughter. Too many of my colleagues like to paint unemployment beneficiaries with one insensitive and cruel brush. This young woman is not someone sitting around just collecting government checks. She was laid off from her job this fall and has only been on unemployment for a couple of months while she looks for another job.
My constituent's story, while personal and moving, is, unfortunately, not a unique one. My Republican colleagues who callously ignore the needs of middle class Americans by refusing to vote on the payroll tax extension and unemployment benefits are sending the message to millions of working families that, despite their efforts to look for and find work in this delicate economy, they simply don't care.
The House Republican leadership needs to allow a straight up-or-down vote on the Senate bill which passed 89-10 with strong bipartisan support. Clearly, they are afraid it might pass.
I urge you to listen to the plight of constituents like Christine who said: I'm asking that they give people more time to find work by pushing these dates back further. I'm having a very hard time trying to find work that will accommodate my living expenses for myself and 3-year-old daughter.
Christine has only been on unemployment since September. She needs our help. Millions of Americans need our help. Pass this bill and stop playing politics with people's lives.
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