Mr. REED. Madam President, it has been 103 days since emergency unemployment insurance expired and 3 days since the Senate sent a bipartisan agreement to the House which would restore these benefits for up to 2.7 million Americans. These benefits are fully paid for and would lift the entire economy. That is why the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office has estimated that failing to renew the benefits for a full year would cost the economy 200,000 jobs. We recognize our bill is a partial restoration, not a full year. The restoration we proposed will increase jobs in the economy as attested by the CBO.
Unfortunately, it appears that the House has no intent to take up the Senate-passed agreement to restore these benefits before they leave town for 2 weeks.
That is right if the House fails to pass what the Senate has passed on a bipartisan vote--and this was a bipartisan, fiscally responsible measure--the Speaker, who says he wants job creation, will be rejecting a portion of those 200,000 new jobs projected by the Congressional Budget Office, which is headed by his own appointee.
Contrary to the criticism that our proposal does not create jobs and doesn't do anything with jobs, it does. More importantly, it restores benefits to people who are desperately looking for work in a very difficult economy, and who need these benefits to keep searching for work as well as supporting their families.
In my view, the failure to act is not defensible. Restoring these benefits is the right thing to do for job seekers and the smart thing to do for our economy. The very modest $300-a-week average benefit, which our bill restores, helps workers stay afloat and cover the necessities as they search for a job. That modest benefit gets pumped back into the economy at the local supermarket or gas station. It is just commonsense. People will get this--I hope--benefit, and they will go right along and take care of the daily needs of life. They are not in a position to stash it away--most of them--and they are not in a position to do anything else but to try to stay afloat through very difficult financial circumstances.
Unemployment remains stubbornly high in my State, and across the United States. The March employment report, while positive, showed we still have much more to do to strengthen our economic recovery,
especially for the 10.5 million Americans looking for work, including 3.7 million of the long-term unemployed. Again, this benefit we propose is particularly directed at these long-term unemployed Americans.
That is why this is a critical effort in our attempts to strengthen our economy--restoring these benefits. We have never let these benefits lapse when the long-term unemployment rate is higher than 1.3 percent--and today it is nearly twice that at roughly 2.6 percent. We have acted on a bipartisan basis, on a fiscally responsible basis, on a basis that recognizes not only the needs of families but the need to help further grow our economy. Now it is time for the House to act that way--responsibly fiscally and responsibly to our neighbors and our constituents, on a bipartisan basis, to get this bill done quickly and get it to the President.
It is my hope the House of Representatives stops blocking this. This is fully paid for. It is fiscally responsible. It is a bipartisan effort. It is what every one of our constituents says we should be doing more of--responsible, thoughtful, bipartisan legislation. We have done our part in the Senate and now it is up to the House. I hope they move quickly--this week indeed--to get this relief to millions of Americans.
With that, I yield the floor and note the absence of a quorum.