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(WASHINGTON, D.C.) – The Senate has passed an extension on unemployment insurance, moving the current December deadline back until March. The Senate bill passed by unanimous consent. As Washington has the second-highest unemployment rate in the nation, Senator Murray was encouraged by the progress.

"I'm pleased the Senate was able to pass this legislation – it would bring needed relief to thousands of working people in our state and millions nationwide," said Senator Murray. "While we are all concerned about our national security, this legislation is an important step in protecting our economic security, by providing needed relief for thousands of workers in Washington state who are hardest hit by the economic downturn."

Meanwhile, the House passed a separate version of the legislation, extending the unemployment insurance deadline to February 2, as opposed to the March deadline set by the Senate bill. While the House bill would help 800,000 people nationwide, the Senate bill would help over 2 million.

In October 2001, 800,000 Americans had been out of work for six months or longer. One year later, that number has nearly doubled to 1.5 million, and experts expect it to increase to more than 2 million by December.

In 1999, the Department of Labor found that when unemployment insurance is extended, every dollar in benefits generates $2.15 in gross domestic product.

"Extending unemployment insurance for those out of work puts money back into their hands, and they in turn put it back into the economy," Senator Murray said. "This important, short-term measure will help our unemployed workers provide for themselves and their families while trying to find work in this struggling economy. For the sake of those hardest hit by the economic downturn, I hope that we can get this bill done."