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

Brutality Eroding IS Financial Support

Director of National Intelligence James Clapper says IS's penchant for publicizing beheadings, other brutal forms of punishment hurts group’s bottom line More

Studies: Climate Change a Factor in Disasters in Syria, California

The studies point to the possibility of clear and present dangers from a threat often considered to be far in the future More

Video Afghan Refugees Complain of Harassment in Pakistan

Afghan officials and human rights organizations assert that Pakistani authorities are using deadly attack at school in Peshawar as pretext to push out Afghan refugees More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Kerry Seeks Assurances of Russian Non-Interference in Ukrainei
X
March 03, 2015 3:11 AM
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has told his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, that his country could face further consequences to what he called its “already strained economy” if Moscow does not fully comply with a cease-fire in Ukraine. The two met, on Monday, on the sidelines of a U.N. Human Rights Council meeting in Geneva, where Kerry outlined human rights violations in Russian-annexed Crimea and eastern Ukraine. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports from Geneva.
Video

Video Kerry Seeks Assurances of Russian Non-Interference in Ukraine

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has told his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, that his country could face further consequences to what he called its “already strained economy” if Moscow does not fully comply with a cease-fire in Ukraine. The two met, on Monday, on the sidelines of a U.N. Human Rights Council meeting in Geneva, where Kerry outlined human rights violations in Russian-annexed Crimea and eastern Ukraine. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports from Geneva.
Video

Video Smartphones May Help in Diagnosing HIV

Diagnosing infections such as HIV requires expensive clinical tests, making the procedure too costly for many poor patients or those living in remote areas. But a new technology called lab-on-a-chip may make the tests more accessible to many. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Refugees Complain of Harassment in Pakistan

Afghan officials have expressed concern over reports of a crackdown on Afghan refugees in Pakistan following the Peshawar school attack in December. Reports of mass arrests and police harassment coupled with fear of an uncertain future are making life difficult for a population that fled its homeland to escape war. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports from Islamabad.
Video

Video Ukrainian Volunteers Prepare to Defend Mariupol

Despite the ongoing ceasefire in Ukraine, soldiers in the city of Mariupol fear that pro-Russian separatists may be getting ready to attack. The separatists must take or encircle the city if they wish to gain land access to Crimea, which was annexed by Russia early last year. But Ukrainian forces, many of them volunteers, say they are determined to defend it. Patrick Wells reports from Mariupol.
Video

Video Moscow Restaurants Suffer in Bad Economy, Look for Opportunity

As low oil prices and Western sanctions force Russia's economy into recession, thousands of Moscow restaurants are expected to close their doors. Restaurant owners face rents tied to foreign currency, while rising food prices mean Russians are spending less when they dine out. One entrepreneur in Moscow has started a dinner kit delivery service for those who want to cook at home to save money but not skimp on quality. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video US, Cuba Report Progress in Latest Talks to Restore Ties

The United States and Cuba say they have made progress in the second round of talks on restoring diplomatic relations more than 50 years after breaking off ties. Delegations from both sides met in Washington on Friday to work on opening embassies in Havana and Washington and iron out key obstacles to historic change. VOA’s Mary Alice Salinas reports from the State Department.
Video

Video Presidential Hopefuls Battle for Conservative Hearts and Minds

One after another, presumptive Republican presidential contenders auditioned for conservative support this week at the Conservative Political Action Conference held outside Washington. The rhetoric was tough as a large field of potential candidates tried to woo conservative support with red-meat attacks on President Barack Obama and Democrats in Congress. VOA Political Columnist Jim Malone takes a look.
Video

Video NYC's Restaurant Week: An Economic Boom in Fine Dining

New Yorkers take pride in setting world trends — in fashion, the arts and fine dining. The city’s famous biannual Restaurant Week plays a significant role in a booming tourism industry that sustains 359,000 jobs and generates $61 billion in yearly revenue. VOA's Ramon Taylor reports.
Video

Video Brookhaven at Cutting Edge of US Energy Research

Issues like the Keystone XL pipeline, fracking and instability in the Middle East are driving debate in the U.S. about making America energy independent. Recently, the American Energy Innovation Council urged Congress and the White House to make expanded energy research a priority. One beneficiary of increased energy spending would be the Brookhaven National Lab, where clean, renewable, efficient energy is the goal. VOA's Bernard Shusman reports.
Video

Video Southern US Cities Preserve Civil Rights Heritage to Boost Tourism

There has been a surge of interest in the American civil rights movement of the 1950s and '60s, thanks in part to the Hollywood motion picture "Selma." Five decades later, communities in the South are embracing the dark chapters of their past with hopes of luring tourism dollars. VOA's Chris Simkins reports.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.
Video

Video Lao Dam Project Runs Into Opposition

A Lao dam project on a section of the Mekong River is drawing opposition from local fishermen, international environmental groups and neighboring countries. VOA's Say Mony visited the region to investigate the concerns. Colin Lovett narrates.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More