Labor Department says 1,600 in Hawaii in danger of losing jobless benefits
Advertiser Staff, Wire Reports
The U.S. Labor Department says that about 1,600 people in Hawaii will lose their unemployment benefits in the coming days if Congress fails to extend them.
In releasing a state-by-state projection, the Labor Department says an estimated 400,000 unemployed Americans will lose benefits in the first weeks of this month.
The announcement comes as Sen. Jim Bunning, R-Ky., again blocked the Senate from extending unemployment and health insurance subsidies for the jobless.
Bunning today rejected a request by Maine Sen. Susan Collins, a fellow Republican, to pass a 30-day extension of jobless benefits and other expired measures. The measure would also extend highway programs and prevent a big cut in Medicare payments to doctors.
Bunning has been single-handedly blocking the stopgap legislation since Thursday, to the increasing discomfort of Republicans like Collins.
Collins said 500 people from her state would lose their unemployment benefits this week, while doctors will soon have to absorb 21 percent cuts in their Medicare reimbursements.
Bunning said again today that he opposed the extension because it would add $10 billion to the budget deficit, and he attacked Democrats for abandoning promises to pay for legislation instead of contributing to a budget deficits projected to hit almost $1.6 trillion this year. Bunning proposes to pay for the extension with unspent money from last year’s massive economic recovery package.
Democrats want to pass the measure with the unanimous permission of all senators, a common tactic to speed non-controversial measures through the notoriously balky Senate. Otherwise it could take almost a week to slog through the procedural steps required to take up the measure and defeat Bunning’s filibuster.
Bunning is retiring from the Senate at the end of the current session, which gives fellow party members little leverage to try to force him to change his mind. Bunning also has been feuding with his home state colleague, GOP Leader Mitch McConnell, who privately urged him to retire rather than risk losing the seat to Democrats.
The Associated Press contributed to this report
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