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Obama presses Congress for unemployment insurance extension

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In his weekly address released by the White House on Saturday U.S. President Barrack Obama again urged republicans in Congress to stop their obstruction to an extension of unemployment insurance for 1.3 million long-term unemployed Americans, calling such an extension not only the right thing to do morally but also the right thing to do economically.

Without an extension, temporary unemployment insurance benefits for these million plus Americans are due to expire over the holidays, leaving them unable to keep food on the table or warmth from the cold.

“For many families, it can be the difference between hardship and catastrophe,” the President stated. “It makes a difference for a mother who suddenly doesn’t know if she’ll be able to put food on the table for her kids. It makes a difference for a father who lost his job and is looking for a new one.”

“If Members of Congress don’t act before they leave on their vacations, 1.3 million Americans will lose this lifeline,” the President stated directly. He continued, “These are people we know. They’re our friends and neighbors; they sit next to us in church and volunteer in our communities; their kids play with our kids. And they include 20,000 veterans who’ve served this country with honor.”

In addition, President Obama also made the case that the extension of temporary unemployment insurance benefits for the long-term unemployed is vital for the economy. He noted that the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) stated this week that not extending unemployment insurance would place a drag on the economy in 2014.

Furthermore, he mentioned the findings of the U.S. Department of Labor and the White House Council of Economic Advisers which estimated that expiration of benefits could cost businesses 240,000 jobs.

Yet, despite the benefits of extension, President Obama warned, “But now that economic lifeline is in jeopardy. All because Republicans in this Congress – which is on track to be the most unproductive in history – have so far refused to extend it.”

With 15 business days left in the month of December, the republican leadership in the U.S. House of Representatives has only scheduled five more session days during the month: Dec. 9 through 13.

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