Feb 26, 2010
He calls the hold up of benefits an abuse of Senate procedure
An estimated 75,000 Iowans will lose federal unemployment benefits Sunday, Feb. 28th
WASHINGTON, D.C. - Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) today said he intends to fight the hold that has been placed on a Senate effort to extend unemployment insurance to approximately 1 million unemployed workers and other expiring programs. An estimated 75,000 Iowans will see their federal unemployment benefits expire over the weekend as a result of the hold. Harkin chairs the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee.
"We need to act quickly to extend the safety net and make sure laid-off workers have access to unemployment benefits through the end of the year, at least," said Harkin. "It is heartbreaking to see political games being played with the lives of hardworking people who are struggling to find a job, particularly when there has been strong bipartisan support in the past to extend unemployment benefits and other vital safety net programs.
"Unfortunately this is emblematic of the larger issue plaguing the Senate today: abuse of Senate procedure. We saw it in November as well. While Senate Republicans play games, families are sitting around their kitchen tables wondering how they will make ends meet.
"I intend to do everything in my power to fight this and hope other Senators will join me in this effort."
Sen. Jim Bunning (R-KY) is waging a lone battle to block the chamber from voting to extend unemployment benefits and COBRA subsidies for the jobless, highway and transit programs, the compulsory copyright license used by satellite TV providers and the federal flood insurance program for 30 days. In November, Senate Republicans used a similar delay tactic to filibuster a motion to proceed to a bill to extend unemployment compensation. After delaying and grinding Senate business to a halt for nearly a month, the bill passed 97-1.
Harkin and other Senators are working on a package that is likely to include a year-long extension of unemployment benefits as well as other supports.