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

ASEAN Ministers Set to Push for South China Sea Agreements

According to documents obtained by VOA Khmer, ministers will stand up for 'freedom of navigation, unimpeded lawful maritime commerce, trade and over flight' More

Puerto Rico Defaults on $58M Debt Payment

Payment was due Saturday, default is first in country's 117 years as a United States possession More

Turkish Public Fears Jihadists More Than Kurds

Turkey facing twin threats of terrorism by Islamic State and PKK Kurdish separatists, says President Erdogan’s ruling AK Party More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Iraqi Yazidis Fear Death of Their Communityi
X
Sharon Behn
August 03, 2015 2:23 PM
A year ago on August 3, Islamic State militants stormed the homelands of Iraq’s Yazidi minority, killing hundreds of men and enslaving thousands of women. The scenes of desperate Yazidi families crowding on the top of Sinjar mountain without food or water spurred Kurdish fighters into action, an emergency airlift and the start of the U.S. airstrike campaign against the Islamic State Sunni extremists. VOA's Sharon Benh reports from northern Iraq.
Video

Video Iraqi Yazidis Fear Death of Their Community

A year ago on August 3, Islamic State militants stormed the homelands of Iraq’s Yazidi minority, killing hundreds of men and enslaving thousands of women. The scenes of desperate Yazidi families crowding on the top of Sinjar mountain without food or water spurred Kurdish fighters into action, an emergency airlift and the start of the U.S. airstrike campaign against the Islamic State Sunni extremists. VOA's Sharon Benh reports from northern Iraq.
Video

Video Bangkok Warned It Soon Could Be Submerged

Italy's Venice and America's New Orleans are not the only cities gradually submerging. The nearly ten million residents of the Bangkok urban area now must confront warnings the city could become uninhabitable in a few decades. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from the Thai capital.
Video

Video Inclusive Gym Gets People With Disabilities in Fitness Spirit

Individuals with special needs are 58 percent more likely to be obese than the general population. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, they also have an increased likelihood of anxiety, depression and social isolation. But a sports club outside Washington wants to make a difference in these people's lives. With Carol Pearson narrating, VOA's June Soh reports.
Video

Video Astronauts Train Underwater for Deep Space Missions

Manned deep space missions are still a long way off, but space agencies are already testing procedures, equipment and human stamina for operations in extreme environment conditions. Small groups of astronauts take turns in spending days in an underwater lab, off Florida’s southern coast, simulating future missions to some remote world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Special Olympics Show Competitors' Skill, Determination

Special Olympics competitions will wrap up Saturday in Los Angeles, and the closing ceremony for athletes with intellectual disabilities will be held Sunday night. In a week of competition, athletes have shown what they can do through skill and determination. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Civil Rights Leaders Struggled to Achieve Voting Rights Act

Fifty years ago, lawmakers approved, and U.S. President Lyndon Johnson signed, the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The measure outlawed racial discrimination in voting, giving millions of blacks in many parts of the southern United States federal enforcement of the right to vote. Correspondent Chris Simkins introduces us to some civil rights leaders who were on the front lines in the struggle for voting rights.
Video

Video Shooter’s Grill: Serving Food with a Touch of the Second Amendment

Shooter's Grill, a restaurant in Rifle, Colorado, attracts visitors from all over the world as well as local patrons. The reason? Waitresses openly carry loaded firearms as they serve food, and customers are welcome to carry them, too. VOA's Enming Liu and Lin Yang paid a visit to Shooter's Grill, and heard different opinions about this unique establishment.
Video

Video Despite Controversy, Business Owner Continues Sale of Confederate Flags

At Cooter’s, a store in rural Sperryville, Virginia, about 120 kilometers west of Washington, D.C., Confederate flags are flying off the shelves. The red, white and blue battle flag, with 13 white stars representing the Confederate states, was carried by southern forces during the U.S. Civil War in the 1860s. The South had seceded from the Union over several key issues of disagreement, including slavery. VOA’s Deborah Block has the story.
Video

Video Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’

Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Hometown of Boy Scouts of America Founder Reacts to Gay Leader Decision

Ottawa, Illinois, is the hometown of W.D. Boyce, who founded the Boy Scouts of America in 1910. In Ottawa, where Scouting remains an important part of the legacy of the community, the end of the organization's ban on openly gay adult leaders was seen as inevitable. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

VOA Blogs