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Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez
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News Release

OPA News Release: [03/26/2010]
Contact Name: Jaime Zapata
Phone Number: (202) 693-4676
Release Number: 10-0409-NAT

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Statement of US Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis on immediate need to extend unemployment insurance and COBRA safety net programs

Editorís Note: The U.S. Senate recessed today, March 26, without approving legislation that would have extended emergency unemployment insurance benefits for workers who have lost their jobs and health insurance subsidies under the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act. Funding for the programs is scheduled to expire on April 3, 2010, and eligibility for the COBRA subsidy will expire on March 31, 2010.

WASHINGTON — U.S. Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis today issued the following statement:

"I am deeply disappointed that the Senate was prevented from taking action on legislation to extend funding for unemployment insurance and the COBRA subsidy. There is no room for partisan roadblocks when Americans are depending on their government's action and the stakes are this high.

"Beginning in early April, large numbers of workers will face the loss of essential benefits. Unemployment insurance recipients will not be able to move from regular state unemployment programs into Emergency Unemployment Compensation, and in some cases, individuals may stop receiving benefits outright.

"Without an extension of funding for EUC and full federal funding of the Extended Benefit program, nearly 38,000 Americans could lose these vital benefits starting the second week in April. By mid-May, more than 1.2 million would be left without these benefits. And, if eligibility for the Recovery Act COBRA subsidy is not extended, thousands of families could lose access to affordable health care.

"As I have said before, we cannot stop supporting workers who are desperately seeking jobs, but — in many cases — simply cannot find them. For many households with an unemployed worker, these benefits are the only thing that allows them to keep paying the bills and supporting their families as they look for new employment.

"I am hopeful that the few senators opposed to extending benefits will allow an expedient up-or-down vote on the bill upon Congress' return to Washington. Those Americans who have lost their jobs as a result of this recession are counting on these senators to put partisanship aside and pass this important legislation."