Federal Extended Unemployment Benefit Rolls Drop by 375,000 in One Week

Republicans in Senate Block Extension for Third Week in a Row
By Masao Suzuki |
July 2, 2010
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San José, CA. On June 24, the U.S. Department of Labor reported that the number of people receiving Federal Extended Benefits fell by 375,000 in a single week. Between June 5 and June 12, more than 150,000 people stopped getting Federal Extended Benefits (EB), and another 200,000 stopped getting the Federal Emergency Unemployment Compensation (EUC). While some of these people were able to find jobs, the majority were dropped as funding for the Federal extended unemployment insurance ran out.

On June 23, Republicans in the Senate were able to block funding to extend federal unemployment insurance for the third time. Republicans argued that extended unemployment benefits would cause the large federal budget deficit to grow. But under the Bush administration, Senate Republicans passed tax cuts for the rich that helped the federal debt to double from $5 to $10 trillion.

While all Democrats (with the exception of Ben Nelson of Nebraska) have been voting for funding Federal Unemployment Insurance benefits, the Democratic Senate leadership has refused to use the reconciliation process that would end debate by a simple majority vote and allow the bill to be passed. Democrats used this process to help pass their health care reform bill, which won’t take full effect for years, but are not willing to help the unemployed right now.

In the latest vote, the Democrats were able to win support from two Republican senators, and when a replacement for Democratic senator Robert Byrd (who just died) is named, it is likely that the Democrats will have the 60 votes needed to end debate and vote on the extension. But the Republican filibuster has meant that more than one million people have been dropped from the Federal EUC and EB programs in June. With Congress going on vacation next week, hundreds of thousands more will lose their benefits before funding can be passed.

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