Kildee calls for unemployment benefit extension

Rep. Dan Kildee (D-Flint)

Rep. Dan Kildee (D-Flint)

A battle is brewing in Washington over an extension of unemployment benefits – after a previous extension expired last month.

Over one million Americans lost their benefits on December 28, including 43,000 in Michigan.

Most lawmakers seem to agree that benefits should be extended… the disagreement comes over how to pay for it.

Republicans want to pay for the extension up front, by making cuts to other programs.

Democrats, including Representative Dan Kildee of Flint, would rather pass the extension now, and then figure out how to pay for it.

“With any emergency, or any issue where Americans are hurting, we should act to get them the help that they need,” said Kildee, “and then contemplate how to pay for it in the context of our annual budget discussions that take place, that are underway right now.”

According to Kildee, many people are losing their unemployment benefits before they can find a job.

“Typically right now, it’s taking people 37, 38, 39 weeks from the time they leave, on average, to get new work,” he said. “In Michigan, you only get 20 weeks of unemployment compensation.”

Discussions are expected to continue through this week.