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Senate GOP blocks another effort to extend jobless benefits

joblessWASHINGTON, D.C. (Feb. 7, 2014) — The Republican minority in the U.S. Senate again blocked an effort Thursday to reauthorize extended federal benefits for the long-term unemployed. The Senate voted 58-40 — with both Sens. Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell voting “yes” — on a proposal that would have allowed people who have exhausted their benefits to receive them for up to three months. The measure was just short of the 60 votes needed to end the GOP filibuster.

If just one Republican senator had voted the other way, the measure would have passed.

Nearly 1.3 million people lost their long-term federal unemployment benefits at the end of December. Since then, hundreds of thousands more have lost their benefits.

“We’re one Republican vote away from restoring benefits to 1.7 million Americans,” said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.). “There is one Republican vote standing in the way of a lifeline to these 1.7 million people.”

AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka vowed not to give up the fight to reauthorize the program. He released a statement that read:

On Monday I joined Sheri Minkoff, an unemployed worker and single mother from Pittsburgh, in urging the Senate to help the millions of workers who are struggling. Sheri, like so many others, worked for years before losing her job in an economy that isn’t adding jobs nearly fast enough. Despite her experience, she has been unable to find work and has even been forced to dip into her son’s savings to pay for essentials. No family should have to experience what Sheri has, especially when there are not enough jobs for those who want to work. We urge the House and the Senate to make this right for Sheri and so many others. And we will not stop fighting until it happens.

Read more about Sheri Minkoff’s story here.

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