Senate Floor Statement on Senate Vote to Extend Unemployment Benefits

Thursday, April 15, 2010

It is unfortunate that this vote comes today and not two weeks ago. While we delayed taking action, thousands of people in my state, and millions across the country, worried that these benefits, benefits that provide a thin buffer between their families and disaster, would disappear. These families are suffering through the anxiety and frustration of job loss not because of anything they did, but because of a crisis spawned in Wall Street banks and unscrupulous mortgage companies.

This bill takes a number of important steps to alleviate the effects of the financial crisis. It would extend the unemployment and COBRA health insurance benefits on which so many families depend until early June. While we have seen recent signs of improvement in employment, the unemployment rate in Michigan, and the nation, remains unacceptably high, making these extensions all the more necessary. According to the governors office, more than 125,000 Michiganians will exhaust their unemployment benefits.

We should keep in mind, too, that extending these benefits not only helps families struggling to put food on the table and a roof overhead; it helps all of us, by contributing to our economic recovery. There is widespread agreement that benefits such as unemployment payments give us the biggest bang for the buck in terms of economic stimulus. By extending these benefits, we will give continued support to an economy struggling to recover, an effort that benefits all Americans.

I encourage my colleagues to place the interests of struggling American families, and the economic recovery, clearly before us, and to pass this much-needed extension.