Thursday, December 12, 2013

Conyers Calls for Congress to Immediately Pass Extension of Jobless Aid

(WASHINGTON) – Today, the U.S. House of Representatives voted 332 to 94 to pass H.J. Res. 59, the “Bipartisan Budget Act of 2013.” This two year budget agreement is the result of weeks of negotiations between Senate Budget Committee Chairwoman Patty Murray (D-Wash.) and House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.) following the fallout of the government shutdown and near-default in October. The Bipartisan Budget Act of 2013 sets overall discretionary spending for the current fiscal year at $1.012 trillion; about halfway between the Senate budget level of $1.058 trillion and the House budget level of $967 billion.Following his vote in support of the budget deal, Congressman John Conyers, Jr. (D-Mich.) issued the following statement:

U.S. Representative
John Conyers, Jr.
"For the past three years, Congress has coasted from one artificial budget crisis to another, ultimately resulting in the government shutdown - and near-default - that brought Washington to a standstill this past October. While the ‘Bipartisan Budget Act of 2013’ is imperfect, I applaud the bipartisan spirit that produced this deal, returning our budget process to regular order, providing stability to working families, and ending the nonsensical sequester that imperiled public priorities. It is for these reasons that I believe the good outweighs the bad budgetary items, and I cast a vote in favor of the comprehensive measure,” said Conyers.

“Specifically, this bipartisan budget agreement will replace the indiscriminate budgetary sequester, by providing $63 billion in sequester relief over two years, which will replace nearly two-thirds of the cuts to vital domestic programs. This is achieved through multiple progressive revenue pieces that increase fees on banks and increase revenue from oil and gas development in the Caribbean. Further, the ‘Bipartisan Budget Act’ does not make any cuts to Medicaid, Medicare, or Social Security, preserving these essential safety nets. In addition, the agreement patches the Medicare Sustainable Growth Rate – the so-called ‘doc fix’ – that reimburses doctors for treating patients on Medicare. This 3 month patch will allow the House and Senate to negotiate a permanent fix to the reimbursement problem.

“Unfortunately, this bill does not address the sequester for fiscal years 2016-2018, and the deal reduces the cost of living adjustment for new service members in our armed forces. Worst of all, this legislation does not include an extension of Emergency Unemployment Compensation, that will expire for 1.3 million Americans this December 28th, and for 1.9 million more individuals in the first half of 2014. The Emergency Unemployment Compensation is a lifeline for millions of hardworking Americans seeking work, and it is unthinkable that Congress would leave millions out in the cold in the middle of the holiday season. Congress should not leave until an extension is considered.

“With these budgetary distractions behind us, it is my hope that Congress can get back to the people’s work - on unemployment, immigration, voting rights, and much more - that has languished due to Congress’s fiscal stalemate.”

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