CHN: Majority Of Senators Support Restoration Of TEUC
Vote on Cantwell Amendment Fails, But Sends a Strong Message
On February 26, 2004, the Senate voted 58-39 for an amendment proposed by Maria Cantwell (D-WA) that would restore the Temporary Extended Unemployment Compensation (TEUC) for six months (S. 2006). The amendment – which needed 60 votes to pass – which would have restored the TEUC program retroactive to December 21, 2003, when it expired. The Cantwell amendment which was attached to gun liability legislation, received bi-partisan support with 12 Republicans voting for it. Despite the loss, this vote sends a strong message to Republican leadership in both chambers that unemployment benefits need to be restored, and quickly. Since the end of last year, 90,000 workers a week have lost their federal benefits.
The vote builds the momentum for this issue created earlier in the month when a bipartisan majority in the House of Representatives voted in support of providing TEUC benefits. Since that vote, Republicans leaders have used procedural rules to block any votes in the Senate on this issue. Despite those hurdles, supporters of unemployment benefits continue to push for the restoration of benefits and have said they intend to attach Cantwell’s amendment to any legislation moving on the Senate floor.
Although falling short of the 60 votes needed for the amendment to advance, the vote is a victory for both supporters of unemployment benefits in the Senate as well as for the 1.9 million long-term unemployed Americans who need these benefits. It is now on record that a majority in both the House and the Senate are in favor of extending these benefits. This will put more public pressure on Republican Congressional leaders and President Bush, to act quickly and restore federal unemployment benefits.
The National Employment Law Project has been urging people to contact their Senators and be advocates for the unemployed, and they thank everyone who did for their support and their role in compelling the Senate to vote in favor of this amendment.