Congresswoman Michelle Lujan Grisham, Freshman House Democrats Call on Speaker Boehner for Immediate Vote to Extend Unemployment Insurance

Congresswoman Michelle Lujan Grisham (NM-01), along with 48 Freshman House Democrats, sent a letter to Speaker of the House John Boehner urging him to schedule an immediate, up-or-down vote to extend emergency unemployment insurance for 1.3 million Americans, including 6,000 New Mexicans, who lost their benefits due to congressional inaction at the end of last year.

“It has been nearly two weeks since 6,000 New Mexican jobseekers lost their unemployment insurance, but the House of Representatives has so far taken no action to restore this vital lifeline,” Rep. Lujan Grisham said. “I know New Mexicans are sick and tired of the gridlock in Washington and want to see Congress simply do its job. That’s why, as president of the Democratic freshman class, I’m joining my colleagues to urge Congress to immediately renew unemployment insurance for the New Mexicans who rely on this assistance to make ends meet while they actively search for a job.”

In addition to the 6,000 New Mexicans who lost access to unemployment insurance on December 28, 9,700 more New Mexicans will see their benefits expire through the first six months of the year if Congress fails to act.

Last week alone, the New Mexico economy lost $1.7 million because of the expiration of unemployment insurance.

The text of the letter is below:

Dear Speaker Boehner,

As members of the freshman class, we are writing to request an immediate, up-or-down vote to extend long-term unemployment insurance for 1.3 million Americans.

Our constituents elected us to Congress to tackle the critical issues facing the country. One of the largest issues confronting our economy and families now is the recent expiration of long-term unemployment insurance for 1.3 million Americans. It’s time for Congress to govern and act and not leave these people behind.

It is unconscionable that Congress would fail to extend unemployment benefits to over a million long-term unemployed Americans who continue to look for work. Unfortunately, Congress’ continued failure to immediately extend these benefits is also harming our economic recovery.

According to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, extending unemployment benefits would actually boost GDP and increase full-time employment. Conversely, failing to act will continue to hinder our economic recovery. In addition, failing to act now means millions of long-term unemployed Americans will continue to face significant hardships as they are trying to get back on their feet and into the workforce.

Simply, Congress’ failure to extend long-term unemployment benefits is poor economic policy and a devastating blow to families who continue to struggle.

For these reasons, it is time for the House of Representatives to act. The Senate has already begun consideration to extend long-term unemployment benefits. The House should as well- without further delay.

Mr. Speaker, our constituents elected us to Congress to govern. The American people deserve an immediate vote to extend unemployment insurance benefits.

Congress – and our economy – cannot afford to sit idle as so many Americans desperately wait for us to act.