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Murray Pushes for Extension of Homebuyer's Tax Credit, Unemployment Benefits in Speech on Senate Floor

Nov 03 2009

Tells stories of Washington state families who desperately need the support to get back on their feet

AUDIO  | VIDEO

(Washington, D.C.) – Today, U.S. Senator Patty Murray delivered a speech on the floor of the Senate urging her colleagues to support the Worker, Homeownership, and Business Assistance Act of 2009. This bill would expand and extend the successful Homebuyer’s tax credit program that has allowed families to purchase homes and has helped stabilize the weakened housing market. The bill would also provide a critical boost to businesses in Washington state and across the country by extending their ability to carry back losses they’ve suffered in 2008 or 2009. And it would help an estimated 18,000 unemployed Washington state residents by extending their benefits by up to 20 weeks while they look for a job.

In her speech, Senator Murray told the stories of three Washington state families who have contacted her about extending unemployment benefits. Senator Murray mentioned Bill and Patricia Proffit from Littlerock, Donna Dettling from Olympia, and Barbara Headrick from Monroe.

The Worker, Homeownership, and Business Assistance Act of 2009 would:

  • Continue the $8,000 first-time homebuyer credit through April 30, 2010 and provide a $6,500 credit to new purchasers who have lived in their current residence for five or more years.
  • Extend unemployment insurance by up to 14 additional weeks for jobless workers; and extend benefits for six additional weeks for workers in states with unemployment levels over 8.5 percent—such as Washington.
  • Extend and expand the carry back provision to allow all businesses to carry back losses incurred in 2008 or 2009 for five years.

Murray has spoken on the floor twice before about the need for the unemployment benefits extension. She spoke two weeks ago urging passage, and then again last week urging her colleagues to act quickly.

Key excerpts from Senator Murray’s speech:

“This program has already helped so many families purchase their first homes, and this bill will extend the $8,000 credit to first time homebuyers through the end of April, 2010.  It would also expand the program—providing a $6,500 credit to new purchasers who have lived in their current home for five years or more. These programs will not only help families move into new homes, they would also increase liquidity and provide a shot in the arm to housing markets that still need support.”

“I received letters from families telling me they want to purchase a new home, but won’t be able to close in time to get the credit, and wouldn’t be able to afford the home without it. And thousands of home builders, construction workers, and real estate agents have contacted me telling me how successful this credit has been, and how an extension and expansion would create jobs and give the housing market another strong push forward.”

“These families have been coming to me with their stories—and I am committed to fighting to ensure they have every opportunity to get back on their feet.  That is why I rise today to urge my colleagues to support the Worker, Homeownership, and Business Assistance Act of 2009. And I am proud to be a co-sponsor of this bill that will give families and businesses in Washington state and across the country the support they need to get back on their feet.”

“We cannot sit by as working families are pushed to the brink by a financial crisis they didn’t create, but are still paying for.  We need to pass this legislation.”

The full text of Senator Murray’s speech follows:

“Mr. President, last week families and businesses across the country finally got some good news.

“We found out that initial estimates show our GDP grew at a 3.5 percent rate last quarter. And that the Recovery Act created or saved over 1 million jobs across the country—including over 30 thousand in my home state of Washington, making us third in the country for job creation.

“These are hopeful signs —but I know many families, businesses, and communities still need help—and we have a long way to go before we have fully recovered from the worst economic conditions since the Great Depression.

“Mr. President, I spoke on the floor twice last week about the urgent need to pass an extension of unemployment insurance that would help over 18,000 residents of my home state of Washington and millions of Americans across the country.

“I told the stories of five individuals who had lost their jobs, and whose families are in desperate need of the support that an extension would give them to get back on their feet.

“Families who - right now - as we debate this bill - are sitting at kitchen tables across the country having a much more agonizing debate about how to make next month’s rent - or next week’s grocery budget - if their unemployment runs out. And who do not understand why some of our colleagues are delaying and obstructing our efforts to offer this small measure of financial stability to those who need it most.

“These families have been coming to me with their stories—and I am committed to fighting to ensure they have every opportunity to get back on their feet.

“That is why I rise today to urge my colleagues to support the Worker, Homeownership, and Business Assistance Act of 2009. And I am proud to be a co-sponsor of this bill that will give families and businesses in Washington state and across the country the support they need to get back on their feet.

“This bill will give a lifeline to millions of families across the country. It will also provide tax relief to help our businesses create or save jobs. And it will expand and extend the Homebuyer’s tax credit to continue a badly needed boost to help stabilize the housing market.
UI Extension

“Mr. President, this legislation will help the families who need it most by providing every single unemployed worker who has exhausted his or her benefits an additional 14 weeks of support, regardless of the state they live in. And it would extend unemployment to laid-off workers in states that have been hardest hit by job losses – including Washington state - by 6 weeks,
 
“Last week, I told some of the stories that have been pouring into my office from unemployed workers across Washington state. Workers who are not asking for a handout—but who just need a small measure of support as they work to get back on their feet.

“These stories have continued to come in, and I am going to briefly share some excerpts from letters people have sent urging me to do everything I can to make sure this bill passes.

“Bill and Patricia Proffit from Littlerock, Washington e-mailed me saying:  ‘Please act quickly to pass another extension of Unemployment Benefits. My wife and I are in danger of losing our house and have run out of unemployment. Please help us!’

“Donna Dettling from Olympia, Washington said: ‘My extended benefits will run out in 7 weeks. I am a single mother with 3 boys and I have been trying for months to get work but have been unsuccessful. If the Senate does not come to an agreement soon, we may end up homeless. Can you please do what you can to push this forward?’

“And Barbara Headrick from Monroe, Washington wrote to me: ‘Dear Patty, I am desperate for the Senate to pass the Emergency Unemployment Benefits legislation. I cannot find a job, have no income, and am in danger of losing my house as well as my utilities. Please, please, please urge all the Senators to pass this emergency legislation as soon as possible.’

“And these are just three of the thousands of letters I have received from across Washington state.

“Mr. President, we owe it to these workers, their families and millions more like them to pass this legislation and give them the support they desperately need. These men and women did not expect to have to ask for this help. They had jobs, they felt secure. But now they spend their days desperately looking for work. Worrying what will happen to them and their families when their savings are exhausted. When their credit cards are maxed out. And when the bank won’t wait any longer for their mortgage payments.

“We cannot sit by as working families are pushed to the brink by a financial crisis they didn’t create, but are still paying for.  We need to pass this legislation.

“And Mr. President, this bill would do so much more for our families, businesses, and communities.

“It would extend and expand the successful homebuyer’s tax credit to allow families the opportunity to move into homes—and ensure that our weakened housing market continues on the road to recovery.

“This program has already helped so many families purchase their first homes, and this bill will extend the $8,000 credit to first time homebuyers through the end of April, 2010.  It would also expand the program—providing a $6,500 credit to new purchasers who have lived in their current home for five years or more.

“These programs will not only help families move into new homes, they would also increase liquidity and provide a shot in the arm to housing markets that still need support.

“I have heard from real estate agents, home builders, and families from every corner of Washington state—and they all tell me they need this extension.

“I received letters from families telling me they want to purchase a new home, but won’t be able to close in time to get the credit, and wouldn’t be able to afford the home without it. And thousands of home builders, construction workers, and real estate agents have contacted me telling me how successful this credit has been, and how an extension and expansion would create jobs and give the housing market another strong push forward.

“This bill would also provide a critical boost to businesses in Washington state and across the country by extending their ability to carry back losses they’ve suffered in 2008 or 2009. This tax provision will provide badly needed capital to help companies avoid layoffs, expand their operations, and create jobs.

“Mr. President, we’ve heard a lot about this concept of ‘too big to fail.’ In this time of nationwide economic uncertainty, I believe the millions of families and Main St. businesses on the brink are certainly too important to fail—and they deserve every bit of support we can give them to allow them to get back on their feet

“The Worker, Homeownership, and Business Assistance Act of 2009 will help bring these families, businesses, and communities back from the precipice. And I urge my colleagues to move quickly to pass this critical legislation.

“I yield the floor.”