This week for talking points, we focus on long-term unemployment benefits. Last Monday, the U.S. Senate passed the Protecting Volunteer Firefighters and Emergency Responders Act of 2014, including the Emergency Unemployment Compensation (EUC) Extension Act of 2014 (H.R. 3979; S.A. 2874) to help more than 2 million Americans, including close to 200,000 veterans, who have been cut off from benefits as they search for employment. Here in Connecticut, as many as 48,000 residents have had to survive without this crucial economic lifeline. We know this legislation is crucial to sustaining our economic recovery, but that is not as important as politics to U.S. Speaker of the House John Boehner – who likely won’t even allow for a vote on helping millions of Americans, even for those who served in the military.
The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) wrote that extending long-term unemployment benefits is good for economic growth and helps bring down unemployment. The CBO also estimated that a yearlong extension of unemployment benefits could increase employment by about 200,000 jobs in 2014 and increase our gross domestic product (GDP).
Governor Dan Malloy and our Democratic leaders have called on Washington to extend federal long-term unemployment benefits. Our state’s economy is moving in the right direction and our unemployment rate is declining. However, Congress’ refusal to act could do further harm to our long-term unemployed and to our overall recovery.
ON THE FEDERAL LEVEL
U.S. Senators Richard Blumenthal and Chris Murphy joined Senate Democrats and six Senate Republicans in voting to pass the Protecting Volunteer Firefighters and Emergency Responders Act of 2014, including the Emergency Unemployment Compensation Extension Act of 2014. This bipartisan legislation would extend unemployment benefits for long-term jobseekers for five months, and would allow for retroactive payments to those who lost their benefits since December 28, 2013.
All five members of Connecticut’s House delegation submitted a joint letter to Speaker Boehner urging him to bring the Senate’s legislation up for a vote immediately. In the letter, the delegation wrote that “Connecticut is ready to act” on implementing an extension of unemployment benefits. The members agreed with Governor Malloy that “the importance of extending unemployment aid far outweighs any challenge in administering it.”
PROGRESS IN CONNECTICUT
Last week, Governor Malloy sent a letter to U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas Perez expressing support for the restoration of unemployment benefits.
The Governor wrote that long-term unemployment benefits are “essential to many individuals and families in Connecticut who are still struggling as our economy continues to recover.” He also reiterated Connecticut’s commitment to working with the Department of Labor to overcome any hurdles to implement an extension on federal unemployment benefits.
NEWS TO SHARE
Last Friday, Senator Blumenthal, Senator Murphy, Congressman John Larson and Congressman Joe Courtney were joined by workers at the Capitol in calling on House Republicans to extend long-term unemployment benefits.