(WASHINGTON, D.C.) – Today the U.S. Senate passed an extension of unemployment insurance, to provide 13 weeks of additional federal unemployment benefits and 26 additional weeks for workers in high unemployment states, like Washington state.

"Our economy is hurting. America has lost 2 million private sector jobs since January of 2001. Through no fault of their own, these men and women have been forced out of work, unable to provide for their families at a critical time.

Unfortunately, Washington state is among the hardest hit by our ailing economy. The bursting of the technology bubble, the struggling of the aerospace industry, and loss of manufacturing jobs have compounded the problems in our state.

Last year, I worked with my Democratic colleagues to push for unemployment insurance 8 times. Unfortunately, our efforts were thwarted by the opposition of some colleagues across the aisle.

Just before Congress adjourned, Senate Democrats and Republicans came together on a bipartisan compromise plan. But the House leadership refused to accept even this bipartisan bill.

Finally, the President changed course over the holiday recess, and now supports extending benefits.

Extending unemployment insurance is an important first step that will help our unemployed workers provide for themselves and their families while trying to find work in this economy. I am hopeful that things will turn around, and we can get the economy back on track.

Senator Paul Wellstone was a champion for this important legislation, and while he is not with us to see the result of his effort, his legacy endures.

But for the thousands of workers in our state who are struggling to put food on the table and keep a roof over their heads, I am grateful that Congress has finally responded. It is the right thing to do, and not a moment too soon."