Congressman Mark Pocan

Representing the 2nd District of Wisconsin
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Pocan & Lowenthal Encourage Colleagues to Bring Constituent Impacted by Loss of Unemployment Benefits to State of the Union

Jan 14, 2014
Press Release

WASHINGTON, D.C.—Even with more than 1.3 million Americans experiencing the loss of their vital unemployment benefits, Congress appears no closer to resolving this damaging stalemate. In order to put a face on the grave impact inaction is having on millions of Americans, and to keep up the pressure for Congress to come to a solution, U.S. Reps. Mark Pocan (D-WI) and Alan Lowenthal (D-CA) today encouraged their colleagues to join with them and invite a constituent who has lost unemployment benefits to the State of the Union on January 28, 2014. Each Member of Congress is given one ticket for a guest to attend the President’s speech.

Every week that Congress fails to act, an additional 72,000 Americans lose their unemployment insurance. These benefits annually lift almost 2.5 million Americans, including more than 618,000 children, out of poverty. Additionally, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office has estimated that the country will lose 200,000 jobs if unemployment insurance is not extended.

“As we begin a new year in Congress, few issues are more pressing than the need to extend long-term unemployment insurance for the 1.3 million Americans who saw their benefits expire on December 28, 2013, and the 72,000 additional Americans who lose this vital lifeline each week Congress fails to act,” the Congressmen wrote. “The President’s annual State of the Union Address…is an opportunity for us to put a face on this issue, and for us all to gain a greater understanding of the effect unemployment insurance has on the people we represent.

“Watching the State of the Union with a constituent struggling to get by without unemployment benefits would demonstrate that while we may disagree on the specific course of action to take, we are all concerned about the problem and committed to coming to a solution.”

A copy of the letter is below:

Put a Face on the Long-Term Unemployed: Invite a Constituent to the State of the Union who has recently lost unemployment insurance

Dear Colleague,

As we begin a new year in Congress, few issues are more pressing than the need to extend long-term unemployment insurance for the 1.3 million Americans who saw their benefits expire on December 28, 2013, and the 72,000 additional Americans who lose this vital lifeline each week Congress fails to act. Without Congressional action, millions of Americans are at risk of falling into poverty, and according to the Congressional Budget Office, our economy could lose approximately 200,000 jobs this year. Statistics and facts on their own though do not tell the full story, nor do they put a face on this important issue.  

The President’s annual State of the Union Address, which this year will take place on Tuesday, January 28, 2014, is an opportunity for us to put a face on this issue, and for us all to gain a greater understanding of the effect unemployment insurance has on the people we represent. We thus encourage you to invite as your special guest for the State of the Union Address a constituent from your district who has recently lost his or her unemployment insurance, or is in danger of losing these benefits, due to Congressional inaction.

After a year filled with far too much partisan acrimony, Americans are looking for Congress to show that we can work together on the issues important to them. Watching the State of the Union with a constituent struggling to get by without unemployment benefits would demonstrate that while we may disagree on the specific course of action to take, we are all concerned about the problem and committed to coming to a solution.

Sincerely,

Mark Pocan and Alan Lowenthal

Members of Congress