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Harkin: House Must Act on Senate-Passed, Bipartisan Measure to Renew Critical Federal Unemployment Insurance for Jobseekers

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA), Chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee, released the following statement after the Senate passed the bipartisan Emergency Unemployment Compensation (EUC) Extension Act of 2014, which will restore unemployment insurance for millions of long-term unemployed Americans retroactively from January through May 2014. 

“Today’s Senate vote to restore federal unemployment benefits is a critical step forward for millions of American jobseekers struggling to make ends meet as they look for new work,” Harkin said. “By taking strong bipartisan action to help American families, we have shown that Congress can come together to do the right thing when it’s needed most. This urgent aid will bring a critical lifeline for Americans around the country who are looking for work, and it will boost economic growth in communities that are still recovering from the recession. The Senate has done its part—now the House must pass this bill as soon as possible and send it to the President’s desk.  Our nation’s long-term jobseekers simply cannot wait any longer.”

Last year, Harkin joined Senators Jack Reed (D-RI) and Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) to introduce the Emergency Unemployment Compensation (EUC) Extension Act of 2013. This bill would provide relief for both states and struggling families by extending federal unemployment insurance (UI) benefits through 2014. Harkin has also supported other efforts to extend unemployment insurance, including the bipartisan Emergency Unemployment Compensation (EUC) Extension Act of 2014, approved by the Senate today, which will extend unemployment insurance for the long-term unemployed retroactively from January through May 2014. 

Continued inaction to restore UI is hurting millions of Americans who have been cut off from the emergency program.  Already, 2.3 million workers, including more than 14,000 Iowans, have been cut off from UI either because they were participating in the program when it expired at the end of 2013 or because they have exhausted their state’s benefits since then and have had no federal program to which to turn. If Congress restores the federal program through May, it will ensure that 2.8 million jobseekers nationwide, including 19,000 Iowans will be able to rely on this critical lifeline.