October 13, 2009

Udall Sponsors Measure to Extend Unemployment Benefits to New Mexicans

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Tom Udall, is cosponsoring a comprehensive proposal to extend unemployment insurance by up to 14 additional weeks for jobless workers. Nearly two million out-of-work Americans face expiring benefits by the end of the year.

In August, New Mexico had an unemployment rate of 7.5 percent just up by 0.5 percent in July.

“I am committed to protecting New Mexicans who are trying to make ends meet in this tough economic climate,” said Udall. “Helping our citizens provide for their families when so many have been laid-off or lost jobs at no fault of their own should not be a political issue. I urge my colleagues to respond to the urgency of this situation and pass this legislation now.”

Last week, Udall objected to proposals from the U.S. House of Representatives and the Senate that offered inadequate benefits for jobless workers in 23 states, including New Mexico. The legislation proposed in the House, only extended benefits in New Mexico for four weeks while this measure would ensure an extension for up to 13 weeks in other states. Udall strongly objected to the legislation and signed a letter to Senate leadership urging an equitable extension to unemployment benefits.

The new proposal that is cosponsored by Udall is fully paid for by extending the Federal Unemployment Tax through June 30, 2011. It includes a modification to the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act to allow families receiving the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), or food stamps, to remain eligible while receiving an additional $25 per week in unemployment insurance benefits. The bill would also update the Unemployment Insurance Modernization provision in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act to allow victims of sexual assault who have left their job to be eligible for benefits under the "compelling family reasons" clause. Additionally, the legislation specifies railroad workers facing expiring unemployment benefits would be eligible for additional weeks.