WASHINGTON, Jan. 7 (Xinhua)-- U.S. President Barack Obama on Tuesday stepped up pressure on the Congress to extend unemployment benefits by approving the bill which has just cleared procedural hurdle in the Senate.
Speaking at an event at the White House, Obama said the legislation would restore benefits to millions of people who have been struggling to cope with the "aftermath of the worst economic crisis in generations."
"So letting unemployment insurance expire for millions of Americans is wrong. Congress should make things right. I am very appreciative that they're are on their way to doing just that," said Obama, flanked by a group of people who had benefited from the government support.
"We've got to get this across the finish line without obstruction or delay, and we need the House of Representatives to be able to vote for it as well. And that's the bottom line," he added.
In a 60-37 vote earlier Tuesday, the Democratic-controlled Senate passed a motion to begin debate on the bill, which would provide a three-month extension of the benefits program. An estimated 1.3 million unemployed Americans saw their benefits lapse when the program expired on Dec. 28.
The benefits came from the Emergency Unemployment Compensation program, enacted under the Bush administration in 2008 to provide supplementary relief for the long-term unemployed who have exhausted standard state benefits.
Democrats argued that the extended unemployment benefits provide vital lifeline to the unemployed and critical economic stimulus to the U.S. economy by boosting consumer spending, while Republicans said unemployment benefits can be a disincentive for job hunting, and with the jobless rate now at a five-year low of 7 percent, such emergency federal assistance is no longer necessary.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said before the vote Tuesday that his party could accept extending the federal benefits only if they were paid for.
Extending jobless benefits is part of a larger message of economic fairness the White House and Democrats seek to highlight in the new year.
WASHINGTON, Jan. 7 (Xinhua) -- The U.S. Senate on Tuesday voted to advance the unemployment benefits extension bill, clearing procedural hurdle for the legislation.
In a 60-37 vote, the Democratic-controlled Senate passed a motion to begin debate on the bill, which would provide a three- month extension of the benefits program. An estimated 1.3 million unemployed Americans saw their benefits lapse when the program expired on Dec. 28. Full story
WASHINGTON, Jan. 1 (Xinhua) -- The White House on Wednesday urged lawmakers to extend unemployment benefits for millions of unemployed Americans, its latest pitch to ratchet up pressure for Congress to pass legislation to renew the benefits.
"This New Year's Day, there is likely less joy and more fear and distress in the homes of 1.3 million Americans who this week have seen their unemployment insurance suddenly cut off -- a vital lifeline that these Americans depend on as they fight to find a job," Gene Sperling, director of the National Economic Council, said in a statement. Full story