Larsen Supports Relief for Unemployed Americans; Bill Would Benefit Nearly 54,000 in Washington State

Jun 12, 2008

Washington, D.C.— U.S. Representative Rick Larsen (WA-02) voted today to extend unemployment benefits to provide relief and help keep food on the table for 3.8 million Americans looking for work, 54,000 in Washington state.  Larsen joined his House colleagues to pass the Emergency Extended Unemployment Compensation Act (H.R. 5749) by a vote of 274 -137 to immediately provide up to 13 weeks of extended unemployment benefits to workers who exhaust the 26 weeks of regular unemployment benefits. The bill must pass the Senate before it can be signed into law.

In May, the U.S. unemployment rate surged from 5.0 percent to 5.5 percent, the biggest one-month jump in more than twenty years. Food and fuel costs have skyrocketed in recent months adding additional pressure on the millions of Americans looking for work.

In Washington state more than 14,000 workers have exhausted their unemployment insurance benefits since November 2007, making it difficult to for them to provide for themselves and their families. Estimates show that as many as 40,000 more will exhaust their benefits in the coming year unless today’s bill becomes law. The legislation passed today would help an estimated 54,000 unemployed Washington state workers. 
“Unemployed workers in Washington state face a slowing economy and record-high prices at the grocery store and the gas station,” said Larsen. “Main Street needs help now. Extending unemployment benefits is a smart investment that will help create jobs, and it’s the right thing to do.”

Since April, Larsen has called for Congress to pass a second economic stimulus package including two main elements, a package of infrastructure investments in projects that are ready to go and an extension of federal unemployment benefits for Americans looking for work.