Washington, DC - In a surprise move, Representative Brad Schneider (D-IL) announced here today, March 11, that he would undertake a rarely used procedure in an attempt to force a House vote on Extended Unemployment Compensation (EUC). According to a press statement, Schneider will file a discharge petition on March 12, which would force a vote on benefits for the long-term jobless if a majority of House members sign it.
This will be an uphill battle. The House of Representative has 232 Republicans and 199 Democrats. When the Democratic leadership in Congress failed to insist on placing Extended Unemployment Compensation (EUC) in the December 2013 budget accord, they effectively gave Republicans veto power over measures to extend unemployment benefits.
Republicans, who often blame high unemployment rates on the unemployed, are in general hostile to an extension of jobless benefits. For example, the prominent conservative Rand Paul states that Unemployment Insurance should be limited to 26 weeks.
A measure to extend benefits for the long-term unemployed needs to pass both the House and Senate to be signed into law.
More than 2 million workers have been hit by the cutoff of Extended Unemployment Compensation. Many are losing their homes, face repossession of their cars and are unable to make utility payments.
Many states continue to have extremely high unemployment rates. California has an 8.3% unemployment rate and in Illinois it is 8.6%. Rhode Island has the highest unemployment rate, coming in at 9.1%.