Lawmaker pushes for jobless-benefits extension

WASHINGTON — U.S. Rep. Gary Peters, a Democrat from Bloomfield Township, and one of his colleagues authored a letter to House and Senate leaders, pleading for an extension of federal unemployment benefits set to expire Dec. 29.

As the Detroit Free Press reported earlier this week, 87,000 beneficiaries in Michigan could lose their benefits under the Emergency Unemployment Compensation plan in the last week of December, unless Congress moves to extend it again – at an annual cost of $30 billion nationwide.

If it’s not extended, unemployment compensation in Michigan would end after 20 weeks of regular state benefits, down from a total of up to 99 weeks a couple of years ago. The unemployment rate in Michigan remained above 9 percent in October.

“Given the unprecedented levels of long-term unemployment our nation currently faces, a full extension of unemployment benefits through 2013 should represent the minimum acceptable extension in any year-end compromise legislation. Should Congress fail to act by the last week of December, over 2 million workers will immediately lose their federal unemployment benefits,” said the letter written by Peters and U.S. Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Calif.

The two also won the support of 78 other members of Congress in their letter, which argued against any move to divert unemployment funds to other programs or require recipients to submit to additional drug testing or education requirements.

“Reducing federal unemployment benefits would plunge hundreds of thousands of Americans into poverty and jeopardize our nation’s economic recovery,” they said in the letter.

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Posted by Tribune News Services

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