With no 2014 unemployment extension able to pass both houses of congress — or even come to a vote in the Republican-led House of Representatives — the number of long-term unemployed job seekers to lose their benefits crossed the 3 million mark earlier this week, according to statistics from the House Ways and Means Committee.
Democrats on the House panel issued a statement marking the unfortunate milestone, and have also created a counter to keep track of the estimated number of workers who have been out of a job for at least six months and who lose their eligibility for the benefits extension.
As of Thursday afternoon, the counter has clicked past the 3,030,000 total, meaning that since Monday, more than 30,000 more long term unemployed job-seekers dropped off the list of those eligible for unemployment benefits.
The cut-off dates back to December 29, when congress chose not to include a 2014 extension of so-called “emergency” unemployment benefits for those out of jobs for more than 26 weeks, suddenly withdrawing the financial life preserver for approximately 1.3 million people. The group of long term unemployed who have lost benefits is now nearly triple the total when benefits were first severed.
An unemployment extension bill passed with support of six Senate Republicans on April 7, which would have extended benefits until the end of May, was never allowed on the House floor by Republican Speaker John Boehner, and at the end of May, the bill became essentially null and void.
But many congressional Democrats have attempted to maintain pressure on congress and on President Barack Obama to craft a new unemployment extension in 2014.
On Wednesday, a large group of Democratic congress members and other unemployment extension supporters gathered in front of the Capitol building for an event they dubbed “Witness Wednesday,” in which long term job seekers tell their personal stories and the congress members make speeches in support of a 2014 unemployment extension.
“Witness Wednesday is another effort to tell the stories of what it means for hardworking people who have done everything right, who have worked hard, played by the rules and have hit a tough time,” said Rhode Island Rep. David Cicilline, who slammed the Republican refusal to even consider an unemployment extension bill as “un-American.”
“It’s clear by their inaction that unemployed people have become invisible to the House Republican leadership,” Cicilline said.
Michigan Rep. Dan Kildee also spoke at the event. On April 7, as soon as the Senate passed its unemployment extension bill, Kildee introduced a nearly identical bill in the House. But it was never acted upon.
“It’s a shame that there’s no indication from Republicans that they even see this as an issue worth bringing up,” Kildee said at the latest 2014 unemployment extension rally.