Webb pushes unemployment-benefits extension
Sen. Jim Webb today called on the Senate to pass a comprehensive proposal, which he cosponsored, to extend unemployment insurance by up to 14 additional weeks for jobless workers in all 50 states. Nearly two million out-of-work Americans face expiring benefits by the end of the year.
The critical measure was stalled last week by Republican leadership but is expected to more forward in the Senate in the coming weeks. In a competing House proposal, only states with jobless rates above 8.5 percent would qualify for a 13-week extension in benefits for the unemployed, which would exclude Virginia and twenty-two other states from receiving federal funds.
“Unemployed individuals need assistance regardless of where they reside, and this compromise represents a fair and appropriate extension of benefits for workers in need,” said Sen. Webb. “I urge my Senate colleagues to move this legislation forward swiftly as it directly affects the livelihood of so many Americans during these difficult economic times.”
The legislation that Webb supports would also extend benefits for six additional weeks in states with unemployment levels over eight and a half percent. The proposal is fully paid for by extending the Federal Unemployment Tax through June 30, 2011.
The proposal introduced last week includes a modification to the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act to allow families receiving the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), or food stamps, to remain eligible while receiving an additional $25 per week in unemployment insurance benefits.
In addition to federal efforts, Virginia has opened six new unemployment express offices and two new re-employment services offices to offer assistance to displaced workers. Additionally, Virginia has extended unemployment benefits up to 72 weeks, and extended health insurance benefits through COBRA from 3 to 9 months for employees of small businesses who are laid off.