“Democrats will continue our fight to restore benefits to 1.6 million Americans looking for work during difficult economic times. In the two weeks since Republicans filibustered a bill to restore this important lifeline, an additional 150,000 Americans have lost their emergency unemployment benefits.“
“For many families already suffering through hard times, the loss of $300 a week has meant going without food, turning down the heat on freezing days or staring down homelessness.”
“As long as there are three job seekers for every available position, we owe it to Americans to lend a helping hand during this emergency.”
Washington, D.C. – Nevada Senator Harry Reid spoke on the Senate floor today regarding bipartisan flood insurance legislation and the need to restore emergency unemployment benefits. Below are his remarks as prepared for delivery:
Today the Senate will vote to advance legislation that will protect millions of homeowners and small businesses from drastic increases in flood insurance premiums. This bipartisan measure will save many homeowners thousands of dollars a year and protect America’s recovering housing market. Since higher premiums would kick in whenever a home is sold, still-struggling housing markets across the country could stumble if Congress allows flood insurance rates to skyrocket. The bill before the Senate will preserve current rates until the Federal Emergency Management Agency submits a plan to keep premiums reasonable and provide stability to home and business owners.
I want to thank Senators Menendez and Landrieu, as well as Senators Isakson and Vitter, for their leadership on this issue. Their bill will cut through the red tape and give consumers better, cheaper options when they shop for insurance. I hope the Senate can wrap up work on this measure quickly. Homeowners deserve certainty, and the Senate faces a substantial workload over the next three weeks.
Tomorrow, President Obama will address Congress and the nation in the annual State of the Union address. I look forward to hearing the President’s vision to create an economy in which the middle class grows and prospers because every individual has a fair shot at success.
The Senate must also consider a number of critical national security and judicial nominations in the coming weeks. With help from my Republican colleagues, we could process these nominations swiftly and painlessly – without late night or weekend votes. But, as always, that will depend upon the level of cooperation from the Republican side.
This work period, the Senate will also consider a farm bill conference report. This compromise, reached thanks to the leadership of Chairwoman Stabenow, will reduce the deficit and cut waste and fraud, all while protecting hungry children and families.
The Senate will also debate legislation to effectively prevent and punish sexual assault in the nation’s Armed Forces.
And Democrats will continue our fight to restore benefits to 1.6 million Americans looking for work during difficult economic times. In the two weeks since Republicans filibustered a bill to restore this important lifeline, an additional 150,000 Americans have lost their emergency unemployment benefits. For many families already suffering through hard times, the loss of $300 a week has meant going without food, turning down the heat on freezing days or staring down homelessness.
One Nevada woman – a Vietnam veteran in her 60’s who has worked all her life and raised a family – said she is afraid she’ll end up on the streets if Congress does not restore her emergency benefits. This is what she wrote to me: “It is not that I don’t want to work. It is that I am unable to procure a job… I do feel that it might be my age, but I am more energetic than some young people I know. Please continue to [work to] get this passed, as I am fearful that I will end up homeless.”
Her situation is not unique. Nationwide, more than 20,000 veterans looking for work have been kicked off unemployment. And in Nevada, where unemployment is still almost 9 percent, 21,000 people struggling to find jobs have been cut off from benefits. In fact, unemployment actually ticked up slightly in Las Vegas last month. And as long as there are three job seekers for every available position, we owe it to Americans to lend a helping hand during this emergency.