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

Karzai's Legacy: Missed Opportunities?

Afghanistan's president leaves behind a much different nation than the one he inherited, yet his legacy from 13 years in power is getting mixed reviews More

Video Secret Service Chief Under Fire for White House Security Breach

Julia Pierson faces tough questions from lawmakers after recent intrusion at White House, says: 'It is clear that our security plan was not executed properly' More

Frustrated, Liberian Students Want Ebola Fight Role

Thousands have volunteered to go to counties, rural villages to talk to people in their language about deadly virus More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihadi
X
Mahi Ramakrishnan
September 30, 2014 2:16 PM
Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihad

Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Could US Have Done More to Stop Rise of Islamic State?

President Obama says airstrikes against Islamic State militants in Syria will likely continue for some time because, in his words, "there is a cancer that has grown for too long." So what if President Obama had acted sooner in Syria to arm more-moderate opponents of both the Islamic State and the Syrian government? VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from the United Nations.
Video

Video Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenya

Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Iran's Rouhani Skeptical on Syria Strikes

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani expressed skepticism Friday that U.S.-led airstrikes in Iraq and Syria could crush Islamic State militants. From New York, VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports the president was also hopeful that questions about Iran’s nuclear program could be resolved soon.
Video

Video US House Speaker: Congress Should Debate Authorization Against IS

As wave after wave of U.S. airstrikes target Islamic State militants, the speaker of the Republican-controlled House of Representatives says he would be willing to call Congress back into session to debate a formal, broad authorization for the use of military force. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports from Washington, where legislators left town 10 days ago for a seven-week recess.
Video

Video Ebola Patients Find No Treatment at Sierra Leone Holding Center

At a holding facility in Makeni, central Sierra Leone, dozens of sick people sit on the floor in an empty university building. They wait in filthy conditions. It's a 16-hour drive by ambulance to Kailahun Ebola treatment center. Adam Bailes was there and reports on what he says are some of the worst situations he has seen since the beginning of this Ebola outbreak. And he says it appears case numbers may already be far worse than authorities acknowledge.
Video

Video Identifying Bodies Found in Texas Border Region

Thousands of immigrants have died after crossing the border from Mexico into remote areas of the southwestern United States in recent years. Local officials in south Texas alone have found hundreds of unidentified bodies and buried them in mass graves in local cemeteries. Now an anthropologist and her students at Baylor University have been exhuming bodies and looking for clues to identify them. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Waco, Texas.
Video

Video Ebola Robs Liberians of Chance to Say Good-Bye to Loved Ones

In Liberia, where Ebola has killed more than 1,500 people, authorities have worked hard to convince people to allow specialized burial teams to take away dead bodies. But these safety measures, while necessary, make it hard for people to say good bye to their loved ones. VOA's Anne Look reports on the tragedy from Liberia.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid