WASHINGTON — U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez today issued the following statement regarding the Senate's passage of legislation to reauthorize emergency unemployment benefits for five months:
"Today, the U.S. Senate voted to provide relief to the more than 2.2 million Americans who have struggled to make ends meet since emergency unemployment benefits expired more than 90 days ago.
"That's 90 days of turning off the heat during this year's brutal winter... 90 days of choosing whether to buy a gallon of milk or a gallon of gas... and 90 days of living in fear of losing their home.
"In my travels as Labor Secretary, I've met with many of these women and men, who are working so hard to find a job but struggling to meet their family's basic needs. Getting them the support they deserve to focus on their job search is paramount.
"Extending emergency unemployment benefits has been a proud bipartisan tradition. The program has been renewed several times, with Democratic and Republican support, even during times when the employment rate was lower than it is today. Even as the economy continues to recover, the current rate of long-term unemployment is at or near historic highs.
"I commend the Senate for moving this critical legislation forward. Now, it's up to the House of Representatives. Every day of congressional inaction is another day of struggle for the 2.2 million people who are out of work through no fault of their own. I've heard from governors and labor secretaries from both parties who are ready and able to implement this vital program for their residents. I encourage the House to vote and send this legislation to President Obama's desk for his signature.
"In the meantime, we are doing all we can to extend employment services and job training programs to everyone looking for work or looking to upgrade their skills. We will continue to work with Congress to create more opportunities to connect ready-to-work Americans with ready-to-be-filled jobs."