Levin Floor Speech: House Republicans Will Deliver the Unemployed an Empty Box this Christmas

Dec 12, 2013

Ways and Means Committee Ranking Member Sander Levin (D-MI) delivered the following statement on the House floor today.  He urged his House colleagues to allow a vote on an extension of the federal unemployment insurance program, which is set to expire on December 28, immediately cutting off insurance for 1.3 million Americans and another 1.9 million in the first six months of 2014.

I’m glad we are talking about unemployment insurance. We are not showboating. We want to vote. And you misunderstand if I might say so the issue. If we don't act, on December 28 1.3 million people will lose every cent of unemployment insurance. These are people who have exhausted their state benefits. They have exhausted them. These are people who have been laid off through no fault of their own. They are looking for work.

When Wal-Mart came to DC, and asked for applications, 23,000 people applied for 600 jobs. That’s the shortage of jobs for people. So these 1.3 million people are people who have exhausted their state benefits and are long-term unemployed.

Historically we have never, never ended these emergency provisions when long-term unemployment has been as high as it is today, 37 percent. We have already reduced the average number of unemployment insurance weeks in this country to 54. I want to point out to the gentleman and everybody else if we don't act it, another 1.9 million unemployed people will lose every cent of their unemployment insurance the next six months.

So, under this bill SGR is now extended for three months. We asked the Rules Committee to make in order an amendment paid for to extend unemployment insurance for three months. Here’s what we said. If we can prevent a 25 percent cut to doctors' pay, surely we can prevent a 100 percent cut for 1.3 million unemployed. And so what's been the response? The answer from House Republicans is this -- an empty box.”

Watch here