No help for the unemployed

tension of unemployment benefits

Congress went on Easter recess without approving an extension of unemployment benefits that expired in December. Therefore, at least 144,000 people will lose this assistance during the two-week legislative vacation.

This number of people, as estimated by the National Employment Law Project, join the almost 2.8 million people who have been unemployed for a long time, who lost this help after 73 weeks, since the extension was not approved last year.

After several months of conversations, the Senate, with help from 10 GOP lawmakers, finally approved a new extension of benefits, which would be paid by expanding fees on products processed by customs and changing the way corporations contribute to their pension systems.

On the other hand, the Republican majority in the House of Representatives questioned from the beginning the viability of the extension and the way it would be paid. In the end, they opposed it because the extension did not include provisions that, according to them, create jobs.

Specifically, there were proposals to create the Keystone pipeline, damage Obamacare by eliminating taxes on medical devices, block new environmental regulations and give a tax cut to the private sector. Again, Congress members tried to include in an important bill an agenda that has little to do with it and that otherwise would not be approved on its own.

This inaction hurts the economy, which would have received a stimulus with new spending by the unemployed. It also affects these workers who, according to the Senate bill, would have gotten job training as a condition of receiving the benefit.

Unfortunately, people who lost their jobs have become victims of political maneuvering. The last act by the House before going on vacation was a declaration of principles to approve a budget that has no possibilities of being accepted by the Senate and signed by the president. House members should help Americans in need today, instead of locking themselves in an ideological bubble.