Unemployment benefits expired Monday for more than 23,000 South Carolinians and nearly 1.2 million Americans because Kentucky Senator Jim Bunning has placed a hold on the emergency extension legislation. That legislation passed the House unanimously last week.
House Majority Whip James Clyburn of South Carolina says the Temporary Extension Act is an emergency 30-day extension that’s critical to millions of families.
(Clyburn on Bunning MP3 2:05)
Clyburn on Bunning
The Temporary Extension Act would also provide health insurance for the unemployed through the COBRA program, provide money for highway projects, delay a cut in Medicare physician payments, and give loan guarantees to small businesses.
The U.S. Department of Transportation has already stopped one South Carolina project as a result of Senator Bunning’s hold on the legislation. Work on the $262,000 Fort Sumter Historic Site entrance road and parking area was immediately halted. Workers have been furloughed until the extension is passed.
Two thousand federal transportation workers were furloughed without pay on Monday.
Clyburn says letting the highway program lapse could put 90,000 jobs at risk this month–a critical time at the start of construction season–as bills submitted by states or local agencies for highway and transit projects go unpaid.
Also, Clyburn says stopping the bill will cause up to two million families to lose their satellite television access. And he says if the bill is stopped 47 million Americans enrolled in Medicare will lose access to their doctor.
Clyburn says it’s all up to Republicans now, since ten must vote to override Bunning.
Bunning said he objected to the $10 billion measure because it would add to the budget deficit.
U.S. Senator Jon Kyl of Arizona, the Senate’s second-ranking Republican leader, told “Fox News Sunday” that he expects GOP lawmakers will vote to extend unemployment benefits this week.