Perriello working on unemployment-benefits issue

Congressman Tom Perriello is fighting to extend unemployment benefits in Virginia after the U.S. House passed a bill that did not benefit Virginia workers.

Last week, the U.S. House passed H.R. 3548, the Unemployment Compensation Extension Act, which only applied to states with unemployment rates of 8.5 percent or higher (Virginia’s is currently at 6.5 percent). Prior to the vote, Perriello wrote to House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer asking that regional considerations be made to account for areas like Southern Virginia with high unemployment rates. Because the bill would not benefit Virginians, Rep. Perriello broke with his party and voted against the bill. Yesterday, he sent a letter to the House Ways and Means Committee Chairman urging short- and long-term solutions for regions like Southern Virginia.

“Unemployment is a national problem, but our response must focus relief on our most distressed communities, including regions like Southern Virginia,” said Perriello. “Especially because the Virginia General Assembly blocked the extension in unemployment benefits provided by the stimulus bill earlier this year, many Virginians in Central and Southside Virginia need this assistance as they seek new employment in a brutal job market.”

In the letter to the chairman, Rep. Perriello requests that before being sent to President Obama for his signature, H.R. 3548 include an immediate six-week unemployment benefit extension for all states. He also requests that when the extension expires at the end of the year, future legislation might award benefits based on regional unemployment rates, instead of statewide rates.

Additionally, Perriello is introducing legislation with Reps. Peter Welch (D-Vermont) and David Loebsack (D-Iowa) to extend unemployment benefits in all states.

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