Today, Rep. Joe Pitts (PA-16) led ten of his colleagues in sending a letter to Senate leaders urging that Congress use money from the $787 billion stimulus bill to extend unemployment compensation benefits. Earlier this month, the House of Representatives voted on a benefits extension that was paid for with $2.2 billion in taxes on employers. That legislation passed over the opposition of 83 Republicans and Democrats who believe unemployment benefits should not be extended in legislation that also makes it harder for employers to hire. The Senate is currently debating its version of the bill.
This week, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that unemployment in Pennsylvania has increased from 8.5 percent in August to 8.8 percent in September. Nationally, unemployment is currently at 9.8 percent and economists predict that it will continue to increase in the coming months. Only a small portion of the $787 billion stimulus bill has been spent, and it has proven ineffective at stopping increased unemployment.
Rep. Pitts' statement follows:
"Millions of Americans are out of work, and Congress must do everything it can to help them. The hugely expensive stimulus bill has done very little to help Americans keep their jobs. That money should be moved out of pet projects and corporate welfare and reallocated to helping those who are struggling.
"I was one of 83 Republicans and Democrats who voted against the House version of this bill, because I believe extending $2.2 billion in taxes on employers will actually make finding a job harder. Voting no' was a tough decision, but we need to help job creators pave the way for new employment. I am hopeful that the Senate will produce a better bill."
Text of the letter is available at Rep. Pitts' website: www.house.gov/pitts.