Act Now: Tell House Republicans to Stop Holding Jobless Hostage

The Republican-controlled House Rules Committee early Tuesday morning voted to block a full House vote on the bipartisan Senate compromise that extends unemployment insurance (UI) benefits for the long-term jobless. The current program expires Dec. 31.

Call House Speaker John Boehner at 202-225-0600. Tell him to stop playing politics with the lives of working familes–pass the Senate’s bipartisan bill to extend unemployment aid and middle-class tax cuts now.

Says AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka:

While the bipartisan compromise negotiated by Senate Republican and Democrat leadership and approved overwhelmingly by 89 senators is not ideal, it would give millions of working families some assurance as they head into the holidays that their unemployment benefits will not be cut off in January.

Previously, House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) indicated he supported the measure. But the Republican tea party wing raised such a ruckus, Boehner changed his tune and now says the compromise should be rejected. Says Trumka:

Now is not the time to play politics with the lives of so many.  Speaker Boehner needs to lead his caucus—not the other way around—and that means passing this modest compromise to help millions of families and restore a minimal amount of balance to our economy.

Last week, House Republicans voted on a UI extension bill that cuts by more than half the number of weeks jobless workers can collect unemployment insurance (UI) benefits next year. The bill also extends the payroll tax cut, but rather than financing it with a small surtax on multimillionaires, it slashes federal workers’ pay and imposes higher health care premium costs for low- and middle-income families and seniors. Says Trumka:

The two things House Republicans seem to be most passionate about are protecting millionaires from having to pay taxes and cutting unemployment benefits for the jobless.