Why Sen. Pat Toomey voted against more than 80,000 PA unemployed
Some 86,900 Pennsylvanians lost unemployment insurance when federal emergency unemployment compensation ran out last week, but that didn’t stop U.S. Senator Pat Toomey (R-PA) from voting against legislation that would have extended the program.
After some obvious bickering and poo-pooing, the U.S. Senate voted 60-37 to extend the federal benefits for three months yesterday, setting up potential final passage this week, even though the bill still has to get through the GOP-controlled House of Representatives.
Emergency Unemployment Compensation is a federal unemployment benefit for those Americans who’ve been without a job for longer than the 26 weeks state benefits are allotted.
In a statement on the vote, Toomey said it came down to the money, and…get ready to “ugh”…Obamacare.
“This bill does not address the underlying problem. It does nothing to boost economic growth or spur job creation. A better approach would be to address the Administration’s job-killing policies, such as Obamacare, the War on Coal, and our overly complex tax code,” he said. “In addition, the measure adds $6 billion to our deficit. In the past, we have found ways to pay for extensions in unemployment insurance and we should do the same now.”
While Toomey didn’t support the bill, six of his Republican colleagues did. And they managed to do so even though the legislation did not address the “War on Coal.”
This may be because they believe in extending the benefits. Or, it may be in part due to a memo sent to rank-and-file Republicans by party leaders urging some degree of empathy toward the unemployed, and view joblessness as a “personal crisis” rather than an ornament to laziness and free money.
As U.S. Rep. Allyson Schwartz noted in an op/ed for the Harrisburg Patriot News before the new year, roughly 40 percent of those Pennsylvanians receiving unemployment benefits have kids in their houses.
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