Iowa Senator Tom Harkin says he’s “extremely disappointed” at last (Wednesday) night’s failure of a bill that would have extended unemployment benefits to more than a million people who’re jobless. It marks the third time in three weeks Senate Republicans successfully filibustered the bill. Harkin, a Democrat, says it’s a shame.
“Right now, we’re facing about 1.2-million people whose insurance benefits will be cut off at the end of this week,” Harkin says. “By the end of next week, it’ll be up to 1.7-million, and by July 10th, before we ever get back here, about 2.4-million people in America will have lost their benefits.”
The Senate is now in recess for the Independence Day holiday until July 12th, so Harkin says there’s no chance any of those people will get unemployment checks this weekend. “That means they’ll have no income whatsoever,” Harkin says. “These are families that are just at the end of the line. They’ve been out of work for a long time. They have no other place to turn. Many are facing the loss of their homes because they can’t keep up their payments. Many of them have illnesses and some have family members that don’t have health insurance.”
The legislation would have extended benefits for people who’ve been out of work for more than six months. Harkin says, “All they’re asking is to just help get them through these next few months and hopefully when the recovery starts.”
All but two Republicans voted against extending the unemployment benefits, along with one Democrat, Ben Nelson of Nebraska. Two Republicans, both from Maine, voted for the extension.