Speaking at a press conference in the Capitol on Thursday, U.S. Senator Chris Coons (D-Del.) called on Congress to preserve federal unemployment insurance through 2013 to spur consumer demand and help local businesses, states, and struggling families. An Economic Policy Institute study last month found that the U.S. economy would save about 400,000 jobs if federal jobless benefits were continued through 2013.
"The human faces of the fiscal cliff are those families that are facing the painful uncertainty of whether unemployment insurance, which has sustained them through this long, grinding, and difficult recovery, will be cut off abruptly," said Senator Coons at today's press conference. "In Delaware, 30,000 Delawareans face the abrupt loss of their unemployment insurance that allow them to keep their families together, to sustain their search for a return to work, to contribute to our local economy, and to create local jobs by taking money they receive through unemployment insurance and contributing it and creating consumer demand."
If Congress fails to act by the end of the year, approximately 2 million Americans would stop receiving their weekly unemployment checks, no matter where they are in the federal program. Starting January 1, it will be back to a state system of up to 26 weeks of jobless benefits, well below the 99 weeks of assistance Americans were eligible for at the height of the recession.
Additionally, by mid-April, another 1 million Americans will exhaust those 26 weeks of state benefits and will not be able to sign up for the federal program, according to the National Employment Law Project.
"If the Senate doesn't step in and act, nearly 2 million Americans will step out of the formal economy," continued Senator Coons at the press conference. "Instead of celebrating holidays, they will be facing a genuine crisis, losing their houses, unable to buy groceries for their families, unable to afford medication, unable to sustain the basics of life."
Congress already trimmed the program earlier this year, reducing the number of weeks of eligibility, which has caused more than 500,000 Americans to lose coverage.
Last week, Senator Coons and 41 of his colleagues wrote to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell urging them to make extending unemployment insurance a priority. For more on that, click here: http://1.usa.gov/XuoMZN