Yesterday, Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) announced she is introducing a bill to extend pandemic UI programs through February 2022.(CNBC) We fully support this move and encourage all unemployed workers to contact your federal legislators and demand your support (links to do so are at the bottom of this post.) Realistically, we know that this will be an incredibly difficult fight to win, considering all of the current opposition to extensions, including even from the White House, but the only way that it may see any traction is if legislators hear from their constituents en masse.
ExtendPUA.org's Statement on the bill:
"We fully support this move and are glad to see someone finally take it. It's unfortunate that Democrats and Progressives did not feel any outrage until after the programs expired, but we are glad they are feeling some now. The fact that the outrage doesn't seem to extend to much of Congress indicates an even larger disconnect between many legislators and their constituents than we previously thought to be true.
Ever since expirations on Labor Day, and even in the weeks before, we have been flooded with stories of desperation. We do not understand how so many legislators can sit by and allow their constituents to suffer through a pandemic that is not over, just because they are politically tired of helping. President Biden. passed the buck to the states, the states passed it back, and Congress just shrugged. Legislators must not be reading their messages from constituents. It's that or they're heartless.
We are glad to see AOC, along with cosponsors Cori Bush, Ayanna Pressley, and Jamaal Bowman actually stand up for workers. Thank you.
Any legislators who do not endorse this bill should immediately stop claiming that they are "for the people." If President Biden does not endorse this bill he can no longer claim to be "worker-first."
This pandemic is not over for the working class. Workplaces and schools continue to oscillate in their opening schedules. 30 million people are affected by the end of these extensions. Continuing these programs is vital to the recovery of this nation and to each and every person who has still not been able to become reemployed yet. Allowing millions more Americans to fall through the cracks of this pandemic, just because legislators WANT it to be over is not right. This move will hurt our economy, but even more than that, it will irreparably damage the morale and mental health of millions of Americans who have already been struggling for over a year.
A year ago at this time, when the FPUC expired, we held meetings with 40 Senators. Every Democrat we met with blamed the Republicans for obstructing the continuation of the FPUC. And it was true. The Republicans we met with were against larger benefit amounts and longer duration. But now the Democrats stand with those that they blamed, and against the people. If they do not pass this extension, they are all to blame."
Stephanie Freed, Executive Director, ExtendPUA.org
You can see our full statement about the end of programs here.