Congressman Dan Kildee of Michigan leads the charge to renew unemployment insurance benefits #RenewUI

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Rep. Kildee calls for an immediate up-or-down vote on a bill he introduced to restore emergency unemployment benefits.

Since last November, Congressman Dan Kildee (MI-05) has been at the forefront of efforts by U.S. House Democrats to extend, and then renew, unemployment insurance (UI) benefits. Immediately after the bipartisan passage of a bill in the U.S. Senate on Monday to offer a five-month extension to 2.8 million Americans who have lost their benefits so far, Rep. Kildee introduced the House companion bill, identical to the Senate version.

This bill, HR 4415, would retroactively extend unemployment insurance benefits to all Americans who have lost theirs since December 28, 2013. Rep. Kildee urged Speaker John Boehner to bring the bill to the House floor immediately, before Congress goes on a two-week recess starting at the end of the day Thursday.

The Senate has acted and now it is incumbent upon the House to vote too. … My constituents and the American people deserve an up-or-down vote to see where their Member of Congress stands on restoring this vital economic lifeline. Failing to extend unemployment insurance means that these three million families — and the thousands that also lose their benefits each week Congress doesn’t act — will continue to suffer and struggle to pay their rent, heat their homes and feed their families.

In a statement after the U.S. Senate vote, Congressman Kildee pointed to his repeated calls for House Republican leadership to simply hold a vote on restoring UI, which so far the House has failed to do.

Starting last November, Rep. Kildee was among the House Democrats introducing legislation to extend UI. In early December, he was one of 174 Democrats who sent a letter urging Speaker Boehner not to adjourn the House for the year without bringing up an extension of federal unemployment insurance. The very next day, Democrats tried to pass a three-month extension of emergency unemployment insurance, but House Republicans nearly unanimously blocked it.

Since unemployment insurance expired on December 28, Congressman Kildee, along with other House Democrats, has repeatedly asked for action in the Republican House. These efforts have been consistently blocked or ignored by House Republicans. Most recently, when a report in March showed that 200,000 veterans had lost their unemployment insurance, Reps. Kildee and Tammy Duckworth (IL-08) sent a letter signed by 161 House Democrats to Speaker Boehner, urging a vote on an emergency extension.

Finally, after months of negotiation, the Senate passed an emergency unemployment extension on April 7 in a bipartisan vote of 59-38 — reviving hope for passage in the House. So far, seven House Republicans have joined Democrats in urging Speaker Boehner to hold an up-or-down vote this week.

This is a critical issue in Michigan, where 106,200 people have already lost their UI benefits, and across the country. Every week, an additional 72,000 Americans on average stand to lose their unemployment benefits without a vote in the House to extend the emergency UI program.

If you haven’t done so already, contact your U.S. Representative immediately. Tell him or her you want to see an up-or-down vote on HR 4415 this week.

For inspiration — and a reminder of what’s at stake — watch Congressman Kildee speak passionately on the House floor about the need to take immediate action.

[Photo from April 8, 2014, press conference courtesy of the office of Congressman Dan Kildee.]

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