Pennsylvania lawmakers react to unemployment cloture vote

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Good news may be on the horizon for 87,000 people in Pennsylvania who lost their federal unemployment benefits last month. On Tuesday, the Senate took a step towards extending those benefits.

“This isn’t about a number,” said Pennsylvania’s Democratic Senator Bob Casey. “This isn’t about a dollar amount; this is about real life.”

Casey was one of 60 senators who voted to end the debate over the extension of unemployment benefits and put the issue to a final vote. Since December 28th, more than one million Americans have been without those benefits. Casey says that’s too long.

“When you’re on emergency unemployment, you’re not on it because you’re a Republican or a Democrat,” he said. “You’re on it because you’ve run into a brick wall of difficulty and joblessness.”

The Senate’s bill includes a three-month extension in benefits costing six point four billion dollars. Democrats largely support the measure. Republicans though, say it’s too costly, and their priority is getting people back to work.

“I think the benefits of being employed far exceed any unemployment benefits that are out there right now,” said Republican Pennsylvania Congressman Mike Kelly.

Kelly says instead of focusing on unemployment benefits, the Senate should take up one of the 40 measures the House of Representatives has passed regarding job creation.

“We’ve worked very hard,” Kelly said. “We got a lot done. We need the Senate now to pick it up, look at these, amend them, debate them, do what they want – but let’s get people back to work.”

The Senate is expected to take a final vote on the unemployment benefits extension later this week.

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