By Debbie Rolen
December 6, 2013
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Rep. Nick Rahall (D-W.Va.) Thursday underscored the need for extending emergency unemployment assistance as he welcomed Lisa Floyd, a former Huntington Hospice worker, to Washington to testify in Congress in support of the Federal safety net program.
“Unemployment assistance is not a luxury; it is the difference between barely scraping by and falling off the financial cliff,” said Rahall. “For many families, this program is the only thing keeping them from losing their home, the only thing that enables them to continue putting food on the family dinner table, the only thread keeping them aloft as they search for work.”
Rahall met with Floyd prior to her testifying about the need for a strong government safety net to assist working families. In her testimony, Floyd, who had worked all her adult life, described her furious search for work upon losing her job and how Federal emergency unemployment assistance enabled her to bridge the gap to a new job, preventing her from losing her house and enabling her to buy groceries and pay essential bills while she sought work.
Unless the Congress acts to extend the current unemployment programs, they will expire in December 28, 2013. According to the U.S. Labor Department and the Council of Economic Advisors, failure to extend the program would be harmful to millions of workers and their families and counterproductive to the economic recovery.
Absent an extension, more than 1.3 million long-term unemployed workers would lose their unemployment benefits, at once, at the end of December, and millions more would have no benefits after their initial 26 weeks of unemployment insurance payments are exhausted during the course of 2014.
“Though the economy is improving, growth is sluggish, leaving many Americans on an extended hunt for employment. Unless emergency unemployment assistance is extended, more than a million workers across the country face the fiscal cliff in the New Year. The Congress must act to spare them,” said Rahall.
Since 1948, Congress has never allowed extended unemployment benefits to expire.