SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

January 10, 2014

Tierney unemployment plan blocked

By Neil H. Dempsey
Staff Writer

---- — Washington, D.C. — Legislation introduced by Congressman John Tierney (D-Salem) to extend unemployment benefits for the 1.3 million people who lost them in late December was defeated in its initial appearance at the House of Representatives yesterday.

“We’re going to keep trying to bring it up,” Tierney said in an interview yesterday.

The effort was made as part of a procedural motion that was blocked by a vote of 226-191, with Tierney blaming Republicans for its loss.

The legislation — H.R. 3824 — would have extended federal unemployment allotments by three months while legislators worked on a comprehensive fix. It was identical to a bill introduced in the Senate earlier this week.

Tierney said the loss of unemployment monies was causing trouble for families across the country, and he noted that 58,000 people in Massachusetts lost their benefits on Dec. 28, when the program expired.

“Folks have been contacting us and telling us some incredible stories,” he said. “It just turns their families upside down.”

Tierney said that 72,000 additional people across the country were losing their benefits each week and that the loss came at an especially difficult time, given the country was “trying to have a recovery.”

“For every dollar that we put out in unemployment insurance, we get $1.52 back in economic activity,” he said.

Tierney said he plans to bring the legislation back to the House of Representatives as soon as possible, and that he aims to keep pressure on the legislators who had opposed his efforts.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi praised Tierney in a statement released yesterday.

“Congressman Tierney is a steadfast and dedicated leader in our fight to extend unemployment insurance for millions of American who have worked hard, played by the rules and lost their job through no fault of their own,” Pelosi said. “His legislation to renew unemployment insurance for three months would ensure hardworking men and women can have the economic security that they deserve.”

Noting that people on unemployment typically spend their benefit money immediately, Democrats in the House Ways and Means Committee recently said that the cessation of benefits had cost the country’s economy $408 million — and the Massachusetts economy about $26 million — in just one week.

They arrived at those figures by multiplying the number of people who lost their benefits by the average weekly benefit — $444 in this state.

Neil H. Dempsey can be reached at ndempsey@salemnews.com.