Yes, December 28 marks expiration of the 2008 Federal Extended Unemployment Insurance (UI) program, a safety net for the nation’s long-term unemployed workers who have exhausted their original 26 weeks UI benefits.
While the nation’s long-termed unemployed already struggling to keep their homes, feed their families and pay bills face a New Year absent extended benefits, the Senate is not scheduled to reconvene to consider a bill for short-term extension until January 6.
The Rhode Island Department of Labor and Training (RIDLT) recommended in a pre-holiday mailing that individuals receiving extended unemployment compensation benefits (EUC) continue to request weekly benefits in the event Congress achieves a favorable resolution in 2014.
The loss of benefits, impacting more than 6,000 Rhode Islanders means an immediate end to income supplements at a time when the state is still seeing 9 percent unemployment, increased utility rates and colder temperatures.
Rhode Island joins Nevada at the top of the pile, in carrying the highest unemployment numbers in the country.
Farm Bill Unresolved – Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program in Jeopardy
Failure of the 113th Congress to cooperatively legislate continuation of the 2008 Farm Bill served as an additional slight to the millions of Americans who currently rely on Supplemental Nutrition Assistance (SNAP) benefits for food security. A double-whammy to many families reliant on both support programs, polarity in proposed cuts to SNAP had House and Senate at a $36 billion impasse.
Headed by House Agriculture Committee Chairman, Frank D. Lucas (R-Okla.), the 41 member Farm Bill committee failed to close the gap on food security programs, with Republican members focused on painting a picture of a flawed government program riddled with fraud and entitlement deficiencies.
“We have all heard stories from our home states about the real impacts caused by the failure of Congress to pass a new Farm Bill and the continued uncertainty for farmers and those who rely on USDA’s nutrition programs. I regret that far too many hungry and food insecure families across America have to wonder whether this most basic assistance will still be in place to offer support in the new year,” said Senator Patrick Leahy, (D-Vt.) in a statement last week. “I have always been a strong proponent of nutrition assistance programs and the doors they open and will continue to oppose drastic and draconian cuts and damaging changes to these programs.”
Leahy, who joins Rep. James McGovern as the only New England states members of the Farm Bill Committee, noted that the failure to pass a Farm Bill extension, originally planned for 2012, had now passed 440 days, moving its fate into 2014.
“Of course, if the House of Representatives really wanted to get a Farm Bill done sooner, they would have kept the House in session this week instead of recessing for the year. Instead, they pushed forward a counterproductive short term extension to make it seem that they are doing something for farmers,” he said. “This comes after the House leadership spent much of the past two years dragging their feet on farm policy and reforms, while the Senate has now passed two overwhelmingly bipartisan and reform-oriented Farm Bills.”
The program, supportive of the nation’s most vulnerable populations including the elderly, disabled and more than 22 million of the nation’s children saw participants take a a 13 percent hit in November when the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act increase in food assistance benefits expired.