If you’re a long term unemployed American, this Fourth of July holiday is not a time of celebration.
“Independence? Ha! This is not the country I once was proud of. There is nothing to celebrate. I have been ignored by Congress. I have no money and sold all I could in the last 3 months.”
That’s a quote from Rhonda Taylor, a member of the Facebook page Tier V To Survive. She is just one of the many long term unemployed Americans who have exhausted their unemployment benefits. On June 24th, the Senate voted down the unemployment extensions bill (HR 4213) after 2 previous votes and several revisions of the bill. The bill would have extended the deadline for Emergency Unemployment Compensation (EUC) benefits. Unfortunately, those benefits expired on June 2nd.
But the bill only helped the more recently unemployed. It never addressed the long term unemployed, nicknamed 99er’s for the amount of weeks they have collected unemployment benefits. So even if HR 4213 had passed, it still did nothing for these 99er’s.
The latest news for the long term unemployed
It’s not good news. Congress is more concerned with helping the more recently unemployed attain their full 99 weeks of benefits than with aiding the long term unemployed:
-Although The Washington Independent reports that Senator Harry Reid (D-NV) has introduced a standalone bill to help the unemployed qualify for extensions, it does not provide any additional funding for those who have already exhausted their 99 weeks of benefits.
-As reported in The Examiner, Representative Jim McDermott (D-WA) told the Ed Schultz Radio Show that he intended to fight for unemployment benefits extensions because “there are unemployed who cannot even get beyond the first 26 weeks, these are not people who got 99 weeks.” Yet it was McDermott who held a Congressional hearing on the specific topic of the long term unemployed earlier this month.
Some people, including MSNBC’s Ed Schultz, have asked that President Obama use his power of Executive Order to help the unemployed. However, according to OpenCongress.org the Constitution does not allow the President to do such a thing.
What can the long term unemployed do?
Members of unemployment based websites like Advocacy For The Long Term Unemployed and Tier V To Survive continue to encourage other 99er’s to contact their lawmakers and demand their plight be addressed. It appears in the spirit of our forefathers who fought bravely to secure America’s independence from the British, the long term unemployed will spend at least part of this Fourth of July holiday weekend fighting for a chance to survive.
Annie Lowrey Reid Introduces New Standalone Unemployment Extension Bill, The Washington Independent, June 30, 2010
Donalee King McDermott turns DUD for 99ers: won’t take time to deliver our letter, The Examiner, June 23, 2010
Jennifer Budd Congress To Hold Hearing On Long Term Unemployment, Associated Content June 9, 2010
Donny Shaw Executive Orders and Unemployment Insurance Benefits, OpenCongress.org June 25, 2010
Rhonda Taylor’s Post on Tier V To Survive Facebook Page June 29, 2010