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Video of Sen. Murray's Remarks



(Washington, D.C.) -- At a press conference today with her Senate colleagues, U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-Wash) highlighted the need for extending unemployment benefits to help laid-off workers and to stimulate the economy. Yesterday, the Democratic proposal to stimulate the economy (which included extending benefits) was defeated on a party-line vote.

Murray's remarks follow:

I recently got an email from Nancy Boddy of Seattle. Nancy's 54 years old, and as a single mom, she raised her son without child support. In August, along with others at her law firm, Nancy was laid off, and since then she's been looking for work.

Nancy writes: "I'm concerned that when my unemployment compensation benefits run out around the end of January or mid-February, I will not be able to keep my house, in which I have lived for the past 29 years . . . My house is the only thing of value I have."

There are a lot of people like Nancy who have been laid off through no fault of their own, from Boeing workers to cooks and clerks. To get through the hard times, they need help with training, health coverage, and unemployment benefits. They don't show up here in the halls of Congress. We might not see their faces in the unemployment statistics. But every weekend when I'm home, they come up to me and share their stories. They're hurting, and they need our help.

That's why our proposal extends unemployment benefits for 13 extra weeks. In good times, the current 26 weeks of benefits might be enough to find work. But in bad times like these, it takes longer because there are fewer jobs available and more people competing for them. An extra 13 weeks will make a real difference for families.

Our plan also covers part time and temporary workers. Even though they pay into the system, right now they're not eligible for benefits. Our plan helps them too.

But unemployment benefits don't just help individuals, they help our economy. Those who are out of work will use their benefits to pay rent, and buy food and other necessities. We know those dollars will go right back into our economy where they will spur other jobs. And because unemployment benefits are temporary, there won't be explosive costs down the road.

Finally, this is not a partisan issue. Under the first President Bush, Congress and the President extended unemployment benefits four times. It wasn't about party or politics. It was about helping Americans get back on their feet in a recession, and that's what workers are counting on us to do today.

Our plan will help stimulate our economy, it will help families keep their houses and put food on the table, and it's the right thing to do. And we're going to keep pushing and keep fighting until laid off workers get the help they need.