Thanksgiving looms with no decision madeU.S. Rep. David Wu today called on Congressional leaders to forge an agreement with the Senate so that displaced workers are not cut off from unemployment assistance Dec 28.
"Without an extension, tens of thousands of unemployed Americans will go without any form of financial assistance as they continue to seek work," said Wu in a letter sent today to Committee Chairman Rep. Bill Thomas, R-Calif.
Congress passed a bill last spring to supplement state unemployment insurance with federal assistance. Before recessing the House passed a bill that would have moved the expiration date for funding federal unemployment assistance from Dec. 28 to Feb. 2.
The Senate subsequently passed its own unemployment assistance package, and the two chambers may go home for the holidays without coming to an agreement. Both the House and Senate are slated to adjourn this week.
"It's time to stop the blame game and the finger pointing and get down to the business of helping hard working Americans," said Wu. "Some of my fellow members of Congress are so eager to run home for Thanksgiving that they are content to point the finger at one another instead of doing real work.
"Going home for Thanksgiving at the expense of leaving thousands of families without any assistance is shameful," said Wu. "Thanksgiving is a time to commemorate and emulate the spirit of cooperation and help that Native Americans extended to European settlers during times of dire need. I fear that some of my colleagues have forgotten the true meaning of the holiday."
Wu has worked with the Bush Administration and Republicans and Democrats in the House and Senate to preserve Oregonians' access to federal unemployment assistance. In addition, Wu introduced legislation (HR 5731) to expand the number of weeks assistance is available from 26 to 38. It would also change the expiration date on federal assistance from Dec.28 to April 1.
Several Oregonians joined Wu at a rally two weeks ago, calling on Congress to extend both the expiration date and the number of weeks people can receive assistance.