Senate stalemate cuts off unemployment benefits

A bill to extend emergency unemployment benefits is stalled on the floor of the U.S. Senate, and people back home are beginning to pay a price.

In Indiana alone, 13,000 people per week are expected to lose their extended unemployment benefits.

“I filed for my unemployment Monday morning I checked it at 10:30, and there was nothing there, and it’s been denied; on the website it said it’s been denied,” said Jeremiah McGee outside of the St. Joseph County WorkOne office. “Having kids and bills, it’s next to impossible, it really is.”

It has been next to impossible for senators to strike a deal that would fund extended benefits through November.

The bill passed the U.S. House of Representatives before the Memorial Day recess, but the senate debate has dragged on so long—the program expired.

“As of June 13th, the extended benefits are no longer available, they were tied to the federal extensions,” said Valerie Kroeger of the Indiana Department of Workforce Development. “13,000 people each week are no longer receiving benefits because they have (been) exhausted.”

If and when an extension did pass the senate, it would still have to be reconciled with the house version.

The moral of the story for the folks back home: Time is money.

“Probably the last week, I may have one more week left I’m sure I ain't got very much more, no more than one week left,” said Otis Sizemore, who has been without a job since 2008.

Michael Thompson is also jobless. He has already exhausted all his benefits. Thompson thinks that benefits should be extended even further “for the people that are actively looking for work.”

This marks the third time the benefits have been disrupted because Congress failed to pass an extension in a timely fashion.

The proposed unemployment extension is just a small part of a $140 billion bill before the senate. The measure also seeks to create jobs, close tax loopholes and increase Medicaid reimbursement rates.

Turns out, the unemployed aren’t the only ones wondering how things will be paid for. The same attitude on Capitol Hill is what continues to stall the proposal in the senate.

It appears that an attempt to end the debate may come Wednesday with a test vote.


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