Lee To Reintroduce Bill Helping 99ers

HOUSE BILL WOULD ADD 14 WEEKS OF BENEFITS FOR CHRONICALLY UNEMPLOYED

Lee’s HR 6556 was first introduced
last December.

Financial assistance for the much-maligned group of long-time unemployed Americans known as 99ers could soon be a topic of discussion on Capitol Hill because of an East Bay congresswoman.

Rep. Barbara Lee plans to reintroduce her bill adding 14 weeks of unemployment benefits to those who have been out of work for as long as two years. Lee is expected to announce the legislation next Wednesday. H.R. 6556 was first introduced last December during the House’s lame-duck session as was co-sponsored by Rep. Bobby Scott (D-VA).

Lee’s legislation, known as the Emergency Unemployment Compensation Expansion Act, would amend the federal Tier 1 extension of unemployment insurance passed in 2008 under President Bush. That extension featured an extra 20 weeks of benefits to the standard 26 weeks. By adding an addition 14 weeks to that package, an estimated 7 million out-of-work Americans would again receive unemployment checks.

The term “99ers” come from the total numbers of weeks long-term unemployed American received benefits through five extensions of insurance over the past two years. The previous round of additional benefits last November included fierce opposition from Republican lawmakers who demanded federal dollars for unemployment insurance not add to the deficit. A deal was hammered out by Republicans for the latest round of additional aid in exchange for White House agreeing to extend the Bush tax cuts.

That being said, the prospects of Lee’s bill becoming law are remote with the Republican majority in the House, but 99ers are certainly appreciative of the help.

-STEVEN TAVARES

POLITICS HOMEGROWN eastbaycitizen.com

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