Patty in the News

SEATTLE -- Three strangers gathered around a dining room table in Seattle Wednesday morning, sharing one thing in common: they're all unemployed. 

They were brought together by Sen. Patty Murray, who hopes their stories will push Congress to extend unemployment benefits for people who are still out of work in this tough economy.

James Henry, who is currently working a brief construction job, told Murray that he only had one more week of unemployment pay remaining.  He has a wife and 4-month-old daughter, and the family is trying to short sell their home but fears foreclosure might be the only option.

"I'm a responsible adult, I pay my bills," Henry told the senator.  "But when it comes to a choice between being able to pay for daycare so I can go look for a job or making my mortgage payment, I'm not making my mortgage payment."

Sitting next to Henry was Sydnee Pardee, an unemployed mother of two children.  Both of her kids have medical issues -- psoriasis and asthma -- and she is struggling to pay for their expensive medications. 

Pardee is also caring for her disabled mother.  Without unemployment insurance, they would be homeless, she told Murray.

Laura Quintino, an unemployed preschool teacher, also shared her concerns with the senator.

All three fear their unemployment benefits will run out before they can find work.

"The unemployment situation in our state is really bad," Henry said.  "It's going to affect a lot of people if they cut it."

Congress recently passed a two-month extension for unemployment benefits, but Murray would like to see an extension that runs through the end of the year.

Many Republicans, however, are concerned the extensions are lasting too long.  Some are hesitant to approve another extension, especially without tying the benefits to more incentives to find jobs or requirements to seek more training.

But Murray is optimistic. 

"We did get a two-month extension passed," she said.  "As small as that seems, we did have Republicans recognize that families struggling is not going to make our country strong, so that gives me hope."

On Wednesday afternoon, Murray visited a Marysville man, who has spent more than a year trying to find a job.