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Rep. Yarmuth Calls on Colleagues to Support Unemployment Insurance Extension

WASHINGTON – In a speech on the House Floor this afternoon, Congressman John Yarmuth (KY-3) urged his Republican colleagues to allow a vote on an immediate extension of unemployment insurance for the long-term unemployed.

The current program expired December 28, leaving 18,000 Kentuckians and more than 1.3 million Americans without a critical safety net as they search for work. If Congress fails to reauthorize the program, more than 53,000 out-of-work Kentuckians will be without unemployment insurance by the end of the year.

Click the image below for video of Congressman Yarmuth’s speech. The full text is below.

Mr. Speaker, 50 years ago today, President Johnson launched the War on Poverty, giving rise to some of the most successful anti-poverty programs in our history, including Medicare, Medicaid, food assistance, and Head Start.

Five decades later, eradicating poverty remains a moral imperative. It encompasses health and wellbeing, education, employment, and access to opportunity.

We have made progress. In 1967, nearly 26 percent of Americans lived in poverty; today it is 16 percent. Programs such as the Earned Income Tax Credit, which gives working Americans a ladder into the middle class, have helped us make that progress.

But today in Congress, our commitment to ending poverty is in question. Because of Republican opposition, more than 18,000 Kentuckians and 1.3 million Americans are without a critical safety net as they continue to search for work. As a result, our economy lost $400 million last week alone.

Unemployment insurance is one of the most effective ways to transition those who lost jobs back into the workforce. In 2012, it helped 2.5 million Americans work their way out of poverty.

Mr. Speaker, I urge my colleagues today to recommit themselves to eradicating poverty and support an immediate extension of unemployment insurance.