Congressman Ben Ray Luján: Senate Action on Unemployment Insurance a Good First Step

Congressman Ben Ray Luján of New Mexico’s Third District applauded Senate action today that will allow for the consideration of bipartisan legislation to extend federal unemployment benefits that expired at the end of last month.  On December 28, 1.3 million Americans, including 6,000 New Mexicans, saw their unemployment benefits run out at a time when the economy in New Mexico continues to struggle in the wake of the deepest recession in a generation.

“The Senate vote to move forward on legislation to extend unemployment insurance is a positive first step toward helping our friends and neighbors who want to work and support their families, but are not finding opportunities to get ahead during these difficult economic times,” Congressman Luján said.  “Instead of providing a lifeline for the long-term unemployed in New Mexico, House Republican leaders have sat idly by as unemployment benefits for thousands of New Mexicans expired, and as more individuals stand to lose benefits every week.”

Without Congressional action, an additional 9,000 New Mexicans will lose federal unemployment benefits over the next six months.  Last month, Luján wrote to House Speaker John Boehner urging him to schedule a House vote on this important issue before recessing for the year.  Republican leaders failed to act, allowing benefits to lapse.  Luján is once again calling for action in the House.

“As the House returns to Washington this week, extending unemployment benefits should be a top priority.  At a time when there are three job seekers for every one job opening, an extension to this important safety net can help families continue to weather these tough times,” Luján added.  “Not only does unemployment insurance support those who have been hit hardest by the recession, but it also assists our local businesses that feel the impact when families no longer can afford the basics of food, clothing, or rent.”