News / USA

US Senate Advances Jobless Benefits Extension

Job seekers line up in the hundreds to attend a marijuana industry job fair hosted by Open Vape, in Downtown Denver, Colorado, March 27, 2014.
Job seekers line up in the hundreds to attend a marijuana industry job fair hosted by Open Vape, in Downtown Denver, Colorado, March 27, 2014.
Michael Bowman
The U.S. Senate has advanced a bill to restart federal jobless benefits that expired late last year for the long-term unemployed.  Final approval is expected by week’s end in the Democrat-controlled chamber, but the bill may not get a vote in the Republican-led House of Representatives.

Normally, unemployed Americans are entitled to six months of modest, government-provided income to help them and their families cover basic needs until a job is secured.  But economic conditions are far from normal, according to Democratic Senator Jeff Merkley, who said millions of Americans need more time to find work and extended unemployment benefits in the meantime.

“They are hoping to make their payment on their light bill.  They are hoping to make their rent payment or their mortgages payment.  And savings run thin.  And that is why, during periods of high unemployment, we have created a longer unemployment insurance bridge to get them to that next job,” Merkley said.

Jobless benefits have been extended repeatedly since the 2008 financial crisis.  But Congress allowed the extension to expire in December, causing millions to lose compensation.  Many would get retroactive benefits if the Senate bill became law.

Wednesday, the legislation cleared a procedural hurdle when six Republicans voted with a unified Democratic caucus to end debate and proceed to a final vote.

But most Republicans voted no.  Senator John Cornyn said government benefits must be limited in duration.

“When the government continues to pay unemployment benefits for people who are out of work, human nature is such that people are disincentivized to go back to work and look for work,” he said.

Other Republicans objected to majority Democrats’ refusal to consider amendments to the bill.  Senator John Barrasso cast a "No" vote after his proposal to liberalize U.S. natural gas exports was blocked.

“What we are proposing is to be able to export liquefied natural gas to our European allies, our NATO allies, and to Ukraine.  Russia is using natural gas as a political weapon.  And it is up to us, not just to get Americans back to work, but to help undercut the ability of Russia to hold the people of Ukraine hostage,” Barrasso stated.

But final Senate passage of the bill is all but assured.  Not so in the House of Representatives, where Speaker John Boehner said Democrats are misguidedly focused on extending jobless benefits rather than boosting slow-growth economy that is not generating enough employment.

America’s economic performance will be a top issue in midterm elections in November, when one-third of the Senate and all House seats will be contested.

You May Like

South Korea Divided on Response to North’s Cyber Attack

In past five years, officials in Seoul have accused Pyongyang of hacking into banks, government websites, causing chaos and inflicting millions of dollars in damages More

Video Calm Amid Fear in Daily Life in S. Sudan’s Bentiu

Residents have been trying to regain some sense of normalcy, but planning for the future remains uncertain as fear of attacks looms More

2015 Could Be Watershed for Syria Conflict

Republican control of US Senate in January could lead to more aggressive policy against IS militants in Syria - and against regime of Bashar al-Assad More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Ugandan Doctors Aid Victims of Sudan's Civil Wari
X
Adam Bailes
December 22, 2014 3:45 PM
In Sudan's state of South Kordofan, the number of amputees as result of civil war is in the thousands, but few have access to sufficient medical help. Adam Bailes recently visited the area and says a small team of Ugandan doctors has been providing remote help, producing new prosthetic limbs for those in need.
Video

Video Ugandan Doctors Aid Victims of Sudan's Civil War

In Sudan's state of South Kordofan, the number of amputees as result of civil war is in the thousands, but few have access to sufficient medical help. Adam Bailes recently visited the area and says a small team of Ugandan doctors has been providing remote help, producing new prosthetic limbs for those in need.
Video

Video Jane Monheit Christmas Special

Chanteuse Jane Monheit sings the holiday classic “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas,” and explains why it’s her favorite song of the season.
Video

Video Calm Amid Fear in Daily Life in S. Sudan’s Town of Bentiu

Six months ago, Bentiu was a ghost town. The capital of northern Unity State, near South Sudan’s important oil fields, had changed hands several times in fighting between government forces and rebels. Calm returned in November and since then, residents of Bentiu have been trying to regain some sense of normalcy. Bentiu’s market has reopened there are plans to start school again. But fears of new attacks hang heavy, as Benno Muchler reports from Bentiu.
Video

Video US Business Groups Press for Greater Access to Cuba

President Barack Obama's decision to do all he can to ease restrictions on U.S. trade, travel and financial activities with Cuba has drawn criticism from some conservatives and Republicans. People who bring tourists to the island and farmers who want to sell more food to Cuba, however, think they can do a lot more business with Cuba. VOA's Jim Randle reports.
Video

Video Three Cities Bid for Future Obama Presidential Library

President Barack Obama still has two years left in his term in office, but the effort to establish his post-presidential library is already underway. The bid for the Obama Presidential Library is down to four locations in three states -- New York, Hawaii, and Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, each of them played an important part in the president’s life before he reached the White House.
Video

Video Fears of More Political Gridlock in 2015

2014 proved to be a difficult year politically for President Barack Obama and a very good year for the U.S. Republican Party. Republican gains in the November midterm elections gave them control of the Senate and House of Representatives for the next two years -- setting the stage for more confrontation and gridlock in the final two years of the Obama presidency. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone has a preview from Washington.
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. VOA reporter Ayaz Gul visited the devastated school and attended the funeral of the principal who courageously tried to save her students from the deadly attack.

All About America

AppleAndroid