Congressman Bruce Braley may vote against a proposal that would extend unemployment benefits for another 13 weeks. Braley objects to a restriction that makes the extension effective ONLY in states which have an unemployment rates of 8.5 percent or more. Braley, a Democrat from Waterloo, says there are pockets of Iowa where unemployment is far higher than 8.5 percent.
“There are many rural counties in Iowa that exceed the floor level for the extension of unemployment benefits and yet because the state level does not meet that requirement Iowans will not be able to benefit from an extension of unemployment benefits,” Braley says.
The bill is scheduled to come up for a vote in the U.S. House this evening. There are border issues as well, according to Braley.
“I’m also concerned about the fact that it creates the anomaly that you can live in Iowa, work in Illinois, lose your job and get unemployment benefits, and yet your neighbor who lives in Iowa, works in Iowa and lost their job doesn’t,” Braley says.
Iowa is not among the 27 states that have unemployment rates at or above 8.5 percent. Iowa’s unemployment rate was 6.8 percent in August.
“I want to see the bill improved,” Braley says. “I’m not at all trying to diminish the impact of widespread unemployment in many states that’s even higher than in Iowa, but I just am concerned about how this is being applied and penalizing high-unemployment counties in states like Iowa.”
The bill, when it comes up for debate this evening, cannot be changed to address the concerns Braley raises. Braley suspects the bill may fail in a close vote and he predicts House leaders may choose to bring it up again, later, but in a form that can be changed by amendment.