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Thursday, September 30, 2010

Down, but not out; 99ers Pledge Not to Give Up the Fight for S-3706

Official photo of Senator George LeMieux (R-FL).Image via Wikipedia
George LeMieux (R-FL) blocked
S3706,  on September 29, citing
"Pay-as-you-Go" rules

Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) legislation S-3706 "The Americans Want to Work Act" failed in the Senate on Wednesday. The bill was one of the last lifelines of help for an active group of unemployment American job seekers, the 99ers (jobless individuals who have exhausted between 73-99 weeks of unemployment insurance and, have been without any types of payments since March 2010), prior to the November 2 elections.

Sen. George LeMieux (R-FL) objected to Stabenow's unanimous consent request. Ironically, the Senator was expected to be a part of a small group of Republican Senators (Snowe-ME, Collins-ME, Voinovich-OH), to be lobbied to pass S.3706, since the Senator LeMieux was not running for re-election. 

Instead, the LeMieux cited uncertainly on how much the bill would cost, for his reasons for objecting the bill.
"Without knowing how much it is going to cost and how we're going to pay for it, while we're all certainly sympathetic and want to work to make people go back to work -- my home state of Florida certainly suffering with very high unemployment -- we need to know how we're going to pay for it so we don't put this debt on our children and grandchildren," Senator LeMieux stated to the Huffington Post.

Senator Stabenow's bill would have provided an additional 20 weeks of benefits in states where the unemployment rate is above 7.5 percent. In addition, a $2000 tax credit would have been offered for businesses that hired the long-term unemployed. 

While making the case for S. 3706 on CSPAN Wednesday afternoon on the Senate floor, Stabenow cited that the bill should be designated "emergency spending" and exempt from "pay-as-you-go" rules, as normally is the case with, unemployment benefits.

"The reality for us in America is that we will never get out of debt with more than 15 million people out of work," said Stabenow. "So when folks talk about the deficit and leaving the deficit for our children, we will never get out of debt had this country until people get back to work, until they have good-paying jobs, and in between times, we will not move this economy forward until we are helping people be able to keep going in this recession."

An aggressive, lobbying campaign took place within the last couple of weeks by a grassroots group of 18 organizations, called The American 99 Union. The group staged a fax/call-in campaign on September 22, urging the elected Senators of all 50 states to bring S3706 to the floor.

Gregg Rosen, Co-Founder of the American 99ers Union appeared on Fox News on Saturday, September 25, to speak about the reasons that the grassroots union of group was formed and why it was so important that the Congress acts on the S3706 unemployment extension bill. 

"Well we're trying to come at them with the fax and figures, obviously millions are losing their homes, losing their lives and are dying emotional, spiritually and literally," Rosen stated. "You cannot take millions of out of the equalization, not provide them the ability to invest in our country economy thought the purchase of goods and services, without seeing the downward spiral you are seeing right now." 

On the American 99ers Union website today, the organization vows not to give up on their efforts to ensure S-3706 is given a fair up or down vote, on the Senate floor. The organization has announced another fax/call-in campaign beginning on Oct 1, corresponding with the One Nation Working Together rally on October 1.

"The Senate has let us down by not passing this bill during this session. Therefore it is more important than ever that we let them know loud and clear that WE NEED THIS BILL PASSED NOW, TO SAVE AMERICAN LIVES! Now is NOT the time to give up! Now is the time to increase our efforts and demand what we need from OUR government!"

Congress has routinely enacted extensions of unemployment benefits during previous recession periods. The previous high was 55 weeks during the recession of the early 1980s

The current unemployment extension H.R. 4213, for the jobless Americans that have not received up to 99 weeks of supplemental income payments, is scheduled to expire on November 30. President Barack Obama signed the legislation on July 22.

For S.3706, it returns back to the Senate Finance Committee process. The legislation can be re-presented on the Senate floor for unanimous consent but, it is doubtful that this action would take place, until after the November 2 elections. 

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