Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis voiced her disappointment over the U.S. Senate’s decision to recess for two weeks, without approving legislation that would have extended emergency unemployment insurance benefits for workers who have lost their jobs and health insurance subsidies. Funding for the programs is scheduled to expire on April 3.
Solis released this statement:
“I am deeply disappointed that the Senate was prevented from taking action on legislation to extend funding for unemployment insurance and the COBRA subsidy. There is no room for partisan roadblocks when Americans are depending on their government’s action and the stakes are this high.
Beginning in early April, large numbers of workers will face the loss of essential benefits. Unemployment insurance recipients will not be able to move from regular state unemployment programs into Emergency Unemployment Compensation, and in some cases, individuals may stop receiving benefits outright.
Without an extension of funding for EUC and full federal funding of the Extended Benefit program, nearly 38,000 Americans could lose these vital benefits starting the second week in April. By mid-May, more than 1.2 million would be left without these benefits. And, if the Recovery Act COBRA subsidy is not extended, thousands of families will lose access to affordable health care.
As I have said before, we cannot stop supporting workers who are desperately seeking jobs, but — in many cases — simply cannot find them. For many households with an unemployed worker, these benefits are the only thing that allows them to keep paying the bills and supporting their families as they look for new employment.
I am hopeful that the few senators opposed to extending benefits will allow an expedient up-or-down vote on the bill upon Congress’ return to Washington. Those Americans who have lost their jobs as a result of this recession are counting on these senators to put partisanship aside and pass this important legislation.”
The Senate will reconvene on April 12 and plans to take up the extension, but, according to the National Employment Law Project, nearly 1 million people are now at risk of losing benefits in April due to congressional inaction on federal extensions.
Get more: In this rapidly changing arena of COBRA administration, the key to success is access to accurate and timely legal information. Don’t miss Todd Eason’s guest column, “Don’t go COBRA alone” in the April issue of Benefits Selling.