News / USA

US Senate Advances Jobless Aid Measure

Sen. Charles Schumer (l), accompanied by Sen. Jeff Merkley, meets with reporters on Capitol Hill in Washington,  Jan. 7, 2014.
Sen. Charles Schumer (l), accompanied by Sen. Jeff Merkley, meets with reporters on Capitol Hill in Washington, Jan. 7, 2014.
Michael Bowman
A bill to revive expired U.S. unemployment compensation has survived an initial test vote in the Senate. President Barack Obama strongly backs the measure, which would extend benefits for the long-term unemployed by three months if passed by both houses of a politically-divided Congress.

Six Senate Republicans voted with a unified Democratic caucus to begin debate on a bill to restart unemployment checks for more than a million Americans who have been jobless for six months.  Those benefits expired at the end of last year, bringing added hardship to struggling families and threatening the nation’s economic recovery, according to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.

“Today there is only one job opening for every three people searching," he said.  "Failing to extend unemployment insurance will not just be a hardship for out-of-work Americans, it will be a drag on our economy.  Allowing this important lifeline to lapse will cost 240,000 jobs."

Reid blocked a Republican motion to tie further jobless benefits to a weakening of President Barack Obama’s health care law, and to require budget cuts to offset the costs of the bill. 

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell argued the unemployed would not need government checks if Washington embraced pro-growth economic policies.

“It is time to get away from temporary government programs and give the American people the tools they need to drive an economy that truly works for them and for their families," McConnell said.

Fellow-Republican Senator Jeff Sessions complained the bill would add $6 billion to the federal deficit and do nothing to address the causes of joblessness.

“It is an aspirin for a fever, but the fever has been raging for weeks now," he said. "And we need to deal with the cause of it rather than continuing to treat the symptoms."

The bill’s lone Republican co-sponsor, Senator Dean Heller, said many Americans still need a helping hand.

“These are hard-working individuals who rely on these benefits," he said. "For these benefits to simply vanish without giving families time to plan or figure out alternatives to help them get by, to me, is just not right."

At the White House, Obama hailed the initial Senate vote and urged swift congressional passage of the measure.

“There are a lot of our friends, a lot of our neighbors, who have lost their jobs, and they are working their tails off every single day trying to find a new job," he said. "Now, as the job market keeps getting better, more and more of these folks will find work.  But in the meantime, the [unemployment] insurance keeps them from falling off a [financial] cliff."

If Senate support for the bill holds firm, passage could come by week’s end.  Its fate in the Republican-led House of Representatives is unclear.  After the Senate vote, Speaker John Boehner issued a statement saying a jobless benefits extension should be paid for, and that the House will “remain focused on growing the economy”.

You May Like

IS Militants Release 49 Turkish Hostages

Turkey's state-run Anadolu news agency reports that no ransom was paid and no conditions accepted for the hostages' release; few details of the release are known More

Photogallery IS Attacks Send Thousands of Syrian Kurds Fleeing to Turkey

Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says more than 300 Kurdish fighters crossed into Syria from Turkey to defend a Kurdish area from attack by the Islamic militants More

Video Sierra Leone's Ebola Lockdown Continues

Thousands of health workers are going door to door in the West African country of 6 million, informing people of how to avoid Ebola, handing out soap More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Fears Ebola Outbreak ‘Beyond Our Capability to Contain’i
X
Jeff Seldin
September 20, 2014 10:28 PM
Each day brings with it new warnings about the deadly Ebola outbreak already blamed for killing more than 2,600 people across West Africa. And while countries and international organizations like the United Nations are starting to come through on promises of help for those most affected, the unprecedented speed with which the virus has spread is raising questions about the international response. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from Washington.
Video

Video Fears Ebola Outbreak ‘Beyond Our Capability to Contain’

Each day brings with it new warnings about the deadly Ebola outbreak already blamed for killing more than 2,600 people across West Africa. And while countries and international organizations like the United Nations are starting to come through on promises of help for those most affected, the unprecedented speed with which the virus has spread is raising questions about the international response. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from Washington.
Video

Video Iran, World Powers Seek Progress in Nuclear Talks

Iran and the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany, known as the P5 + 1, have started a new round of talks on Iran's nuclear program. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports that as the negotiations take place in New York, a U.S. envoy is questioning Iran's commitment to peaceful nuclear activity.
Video

Video Obama Goes to UN With Islamic State, Ebola on Agenda

President Obama goes to the United Nations General Assembly to rally nations to support a coalition against Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria. He also will look for nations to back his plan to fight the Ebola virus in West Africa. As VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports, Obama’s efforts reflect new moves by the U.S. administration to take a leading role in addressing world crises.
Video

Video Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land Called Calais

The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching Europe. And for those forunate enough to reach a place like Calais, France, only find that their problems aren't over. Lisa Bryant has the story.
Video

Video Westgate Siege Anniversary Brings Back Painful Memories

One year after it happened, the survivors of the terror attack on Nairobi's Westgate Shopping Mall still cannot shake the images of that tragic incident. For VOA, Mohammed Yusuf tells the story of victims still waiting for the answer to the question 'how could this happen?'
Video

Video Militant Assault in Syria Displaces Thousands of Kurds

A major assault by Islamic State militants on Kurds in Syria has sent a wave of new refugees to the Turkish border, where they were stopped by Turkish border security. Turkey is already hosting about 700,000 Syrian refugees who fled the civil war between the government and the opposition. But the government in Ankara has a history of strained relations with Turkey's Kurdish minority. Zlatica Hoke reports Turkey is asking for international help.
Video

Video Whaling Summit Votes to Uphold Ban on Japan Whale Hunt

The International Whaling Commission, meeting in Slovenia, has voted to uphold a court ruling banning Japan from hunting whales in the Antarctic Ocean. Conservationists hailed the ruling as a victory, but Tokyo says it will submit revised plans for a whale hunt in 2015. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid