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Levin Keeps Up the Pressure for an Unemployment Extension

Levin gave an impromptu press conference on jobless benefits in the Senate press gallery Tuesday. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)
Levin gave an impromptu press conference on jobless benefits in the Senate press gallery Tuesday. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Rep. Sander M. Levin isn’t giving up on an unemployment extension.  

Over the past 24 hours, the Michigan Democrat and ranking member of the House Ways and Means Committee — and one of the loudest voices calling for GOP leadership to act — announced two more ways he’ll try to force the issue and revive emergency unemployment benefits in the weeks ahead.  

In a Sunday op-ed in Roll Call , Levin said he has his eye on two pieces of legislation pending on the House floor that could be used as vehicles for an unemployment extension. One is a package of tax provisions that need to be extended following their lapse at the end of last year; the other is a bill — still yet to be unveiled — that would save the Highway Trust Fund from running out of money before the August recess.  

“We should include a six-month extension of unemployment insurance alongside either of these legislative packages,” Levin wrote. “That’s what the American people would call a win-win solution.”  

Speaker John A. Boehner, R-Ohio, and his lieutenants in House GOP leadership have said they won’t consider an extension of emergency unemployment benefits that isn’t offset and doesn’t also include a concrete plan to spur job creation.  

On Monday, Levin announced that he would launch the first installment of a new series of press events called “Witness Wednesdays” this week, wherein out-of-work Americans will come to Capitol Hill to share stories of their hardships after being cut off from unemployment insurance. This week’s inaugural event will also feature “faith, labor, civil rights and non-profit leaders,” a release from Ways and Means Committee Democrats said.  

According to the committee’s counter tracking the estimated the number of unemployed individuals not receiving federal unemployment insurance since the program expired on Dec. 28, the threshold has now crossed the 3 million mark.

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