Undoubtedly, unemployment insurance helps individuals and families avoid economic disaster while providing a boost to our nation’s economy as a whole.
There is support in Congress from both Republicans and Democrats for an extension. In December, I joined 187 of my colleagues in sending a letter to Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, urging him to let the House of Representatives vote on extension legislation. My colleagues and I wrote again in January, urging the speaker not to recess the House until such a bill was passed.
But to date, Republican leaders have inexplicably blocked any progress on this issue. On Feb. 6, four Senate Republicans broke from their party leaders to support an extension, but the refusal of others to do so meant that the measure was defeated.
Hundreds of 3rd District residents have contacted my office in the past month urging action.
One woman wrote: “I am a professional sales executive with advanced degrees in engineering and business. I was laid off in April 2013 and have been aggressively looking for work in every possible fashion.”
Another resident wrote: “I worked for one company for 25 years and another one for 9 years. Please do what you can. I currently have no income and no job. I want to work, and will keep looking.”
But one man from the 3rd District succinctly summed up the situation that so many other Americans are facing. He wrote: “I am not sitting home watching TV and enjoying my time. This has been an awful year and has changed my life forever. I have three kids to provide for and I have done everything in my power to get a new job … Please do what you can to extend benefits so we can continue to look.”
Last week I spoke on the House floor to give national voice to these 3rd District residents. Renewing unemployment insurance is a fundamental component to job growth and to rebuilding our nation’s economic stability.
In January, The Eagle-Tribune rightly editorialized about the importance of extending unemployment insurance. The editorial said: “for the recovery for this recession to be considered complete, it needs to include all Americans.”
I agree, and so do the people of Massachusetts’ 3rd District. We are all ready to get to work.
Congresswoman Niki Tsongas, D-Lowell, represents the 3rd District.