This week, the Senate, or more specifically, Senate Republicans, had two opportunities to show that their wing of the legislative body had a heart as opposed to a gold-encrusted ice box full of IOUs to their corporate sugar daddies. Both opportunities were measures to extend unemployment benefits. Given a reported 1.3 million workers lost their jobless benefits on Dec. 28th following the the expiration of an emergency program to help the unemployed, one might hope that there’d be some level of concern to help those who need it most and to vote accordingly.
Neither bill presented received the 60 votes necessary to overcome a filibuster to move forward, thus Republicans once again took out their stick and chased poor folks off their lawns for daring to ask for rations to do little things like eat and have a place to live, following the economic conditions largely rooted in awful Republican policy that got them there in the first place.
Republicans say that they have their reasons for not passing the bills, i.e. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) refusing to let them offer amendments, but that is a crock.The fact is, they don’t care about the plight of the unemployed and the long term unemployed. If they did, petty squabbles over political semantics would’ve been cast aside for the greater good. Or better yet, for common decency.
All of this comes at a time in which long-term unemployment is as high as it’s ever been since World Word II; there have been 4 million people who have been out of work for 27 weeks or longer. As the Washington Post points out, when you find yourself out of work for such an extended period of time, you “have just a 12 percent chance of finding a new job in a given month.”
Emergency benefits are an essential source of income for these people suffering, but again, Republicans in Congress give not a single damn about their plight.
On the second vote on Thursday, which failed 58 to 40, Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) said, ”Because of the inaction of one person today there’s a family, thousands of families who are going to miss mortgage payments and send their lives into economic chaos.”
For the record, while the unemployment rate overall dropped to 6.5 percent, Black unemployment rose from 11.5 to 12 percent. More, Black teen unemployment rose from 35.5 to 38 percent.