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Congresswoman Frederica Wilson

Representing the 24th District of Florida

Congresswoman Wilson Votes Against Republican Unemployment Bill And Calls For House Majority To Offer a Clean Unemployment Insurance Extension

Dec 13, 2011
Press Release

Wilson: “Now is not the time to reduce the availability of unemployment benefits to millions of Americans.  Republicans should offer a clean unemployment extension bill before Americans enter the holiday season.”

Washington, DC – H.R. 3630, the so-called ‘Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2011’ which the House voted on today would immediately reduce the current maximum number of weeks of eligibility for extended unemployment benefits from 99 weeks to 79 weeks, and further reduce the maximum to 59 weeks by the middle of 2012.  Further, if a recipient has not finished high school, they would be required to participate in GED programs.

“My constituents are not looking for handouts – they are looking for work.  Many of those unable to finish high school for whatever reason are looking for effective job training programs and ways to support their children and families during their job search.”  

Federal unemployment programs will begin to expire at the end of this year, and an estimated 2.1 million Americans could lose their unemployment benefits by mid-February.  As many as 6 million more could lose them over the next year.  The Republican leadership’s response is to tie the extension of unemployment benefits to poison pills they know the President will veto, and to reduce the benefits currently available to unemployed Americans.

This bill is much more than a proposed extension of unemployment benefits.  It contains numerous provisions that are dead on arrival in the Senate and at the White House:

• Directs the Obama Administration to grant a permit for the Keystone XL pipeline within 60 days of enactment, even after he requested a clean extension of benefits and threatened to veto any legislation containing this policy provision.

• Cancels the EPA’s new pollution standards for industrial boilers.

• Extends the pay freeze already in effect for civilian federal employees through 2013.

“HR 3630 is another example of political games being played with Americans’ futures.  In districts such as mine where unemployment rates surpass the national average, children’s well-being are being jeopardized, and more and more families are watching the American Dream slip further and further away.  The time for political games must come to an end, and elected officials must begin to once again serve the public interest.”

The U.S. Census Bureau has found that unemployment benefits prevented 3.2 million individuals, including nearly 1 million children living with an unemployed parent, from falling into poverty in 2010.  Americans receiving unemployment insurance are already required to actively look for and accept work, and they have ample incentive to do so given that the average unemployment benefit – $290 a week – only reaches to 67% of the poverty line for a family of four.

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Rep. Frederica S. Wilson is a first-term congresswoman representing the 17th District of Florida, including Northern Miami-Dade and Southeast Broward Counties. She is a former state legislator and school principal and the founder of the 5000 Role Models for Excellence Project, a mentoring program for young males at risk of dropping out of school.