Obama Economic Adviser Calls for Extending Unemployment Benefits


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Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images (WASHINGTON) — Gene Sperling, the director of the National Economic Council and President Obama’s top economic adviser is calling for a vote on Monday to extend emergency unemployment benefits for three months until a long-term deal can be reached.

In a statement released on Wednesday, Sperling said that over one million Americans whose unemployment benefits were taken away this past Saturday were likely feeling “less joy and more fear and distress” on the first day of the new year. Calling the benefits “a vital lifeline,” Sperling argued that “there would be no better New Year’s resolution for Congress to make today than to commit to making the first new legislation for the new year the restoration of emergency unemployment insurance for those who have this week just been cut off.”

Sperling says that the failure to extend unemployment benefits through 2014 would affect 14 million people — the 4.9 million who will have their benefits taken away and about nine million family members that they support.

The bipartisan bill that Sperling is pressing for was introduced by Sen. Jack Reed, D-R.I. and Sen. Dean Heller, R-Nev.

A White House aide said last week that the president spoke to Reed and Heller to offer his support for the bill.

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