Long-Term Jobless Facing New Year Without Aid - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

Long-Term Jobless Facing New Year Without Aid

Richard Mattos, 59, looks for jobs at a state-run employment center in Salem, Ore., on Thursday, Dec. 26, 2013. Mattos is one of more than 1 million Americans who will lose federal unemployment benefits at year's end. Richard Mattos, 59, looks for jobs at a state-run employment center in Salem, Ore., on Thursday, Dec. 26, 2013. Mattos is one of more than 1 million Americans who will lose federal unemployment benefits at year's end.

NBCNEWS.COM - Over a million out-of-work Americans will be ringing in the new year with a lot more uncertainty about the future.

Jobless benefits are slated to expire this weekend for 1.3 million people who receive the long-term federal aid payments that kick in after state insurance payments run out. The emergency benefits, which were instituted during the 2008 recession, allowed many individuals to receive benefits for up to 99 weeks while seeking work. While the program has been extended 11 times, lawmakers failed to reach a year-end agreement to maintain it.

The lapse means more than just fewer presents under the tree for unemployed people like Nancy Connelly-Cumming, a single mother who lives in Newbury Park, Calif.

She's been looking for work since losing her job at a nonprofit group in September 2012. "Absolutely, I couldn't have survived this long without an unemployment benefit," she told NBC News. "That was definitely what kept me going."

Connelly-Cumming said she's been applying for minimum-wage jobs and that she fears losing her home if she stops receiving her aid. "I don't want my children to know," she said. "They're 16 and 14 and they're pretty aware of what's going on but I don't want them to come to the realization that we might not have this home in a couple of months. I don't want them to know that. They don't have to worry. That's my job."

A bipartisan team of senators is pushing for a short-term fix after Congress returns to Washington in January.

Sens. Jack Reed, a Rhode Island Democrat, and Dean Heller, a Nevada Republican, are proposing a three-month extension of the benefits program that would also retroactively pay  the missed checks to the long-term unemployed. Reed said Thursday that he expects the first vote on that proposal to be held Jan. 6.

President Barack Obama called the two lawmakers on Friday from Hawaii to thank them for their proposal and to pledge to fight for its passage, the White House said. 

"This is just enough to keep people going -- in some cases, barely enough to keep people going," Reed said on a conference call with reporters. "Paying the rent, paying for fuel, going to the dollar store, not to upscale shops."

Deborah Barrett, a former accounting manager from Rhode Island who was laid off in February, joined Reed on the call.

"Without the continuation of federal unemployment insurance, I don't know how we'll be able to stay in our home or how we will get by until I land my next job," she said.

Democratic lawmakers had tried to extend the insurance benefits during the December fight over the federal budget, but they failed to insert even a temporary fix in the compromise legislation drafted by Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., and Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis.

After the passage of the budget deal, Obama called on Congress to pass the temporary extension as soon as they return from the holiday break.

"Because Congress didn't act, more than 1 million of their constituents will lose a vital economic lifeline at Christmastime, leaving a lot of job-seekers without any source of income at all," Obama said during a year-end press conference. "I think we're a better country than that. We don't abandon each other when times are tough."

Democratic Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid placed blame for the expiration of benefits squarely with Republicans.

"In the past, Democrats and Republicans have worked together to extend unemployment insurance for those still looking for work," Reid said in a statement last week. "Sadly, Republicans have now decided that they would rather let this program expire than cooperate with Democrats."

Republicans warn that the extension of benefits would increase the deficit by $25 billion, although some have said they are open to some kind of fix if supporters find a way to pay for it.

Other high-profile GOP lawmakers have suggested that continuing the aid could hurt workers in the long run.

"I support unemployment benefits for the 28 weeks they're paid for," Kentucky Republican Sen. Rand Paul said on "Fox News Sunday" earlier this month. "If you extend it beyond that, you do a disservice to these workers."

That's a characterization that recipients of the aid say is out of touch.

"My job search is my full-time job," said Barrett, who said she has been caring for her elderly mother while she looks for work. "I am sick and tired of people insinuating that folks in my position are not really trying to find jobs and are content to remain on unemployment. Such willful ignorance is deplorable."

Connelly-Cumming says she's waited for hours at coffee shops and grocery stores to speak to supervisors about jobs, with no success.

"When you've been out of work so long, you know, people begin to think, "'Well, maybe she doesn't want to work. Surely she can get a job at any of the fast food places,'" she said. "Well, I can't!"

Liberal groups hope to make the GOP pay a political price for its stance.

Progressive organization Americans United for Change has launched a national TV ad blitz slamming Republicans for their stance on the insurance payments.

"Who had a merry Christmas? The richest one percent," a voice in the ad booms. "Republicans in Congress made sure of that, protecting billions in taxpayer giveaways and for those facing tough times, Republicans stripped 1.3 million Americans of jobless benefits — folks who want to work but cannot find a job."

  • Most Popular StoriesMost Popular StoriesMore>>

  • Changes coming to Washington State ID's starting July 1st

    Changes coming to Washington State ID's starting July 1st

    Friday, June 22 2018 10:01 PM EDT2018-06-23 02:01:48 GMT

    Spokane, Wash. Starting July 1st, 2018 all standard Washington State ID cards will be marked with "Federal Limits Apply" on the top right corner. The driver's license is still good for driving and standard identification but those three words indicate that the ID is not valid for federal identification purposes. The ID cannot be used to board a plane or enter federal buildings starting October 1st, 2020. The real id act is a federal law, which was passed by congress in 2005...

    >>

    Spokane, Wash. Starting July 1st, 2018 all standard Washington State ID cards will be marked with "Federal Limits Apply" on the top right corner. The driver's license is still good for driving and standard identification but those three words indicate that the ID is not valid for federal identification purposes. The ID cannot be used to board a plane or enter federal buildings starting October 1st, 2020. The real id act is a federal law, which was passed by congress in 2005...

    >>
  • Viral Post: 15-year-old girl helps blind, deaf man on Alaska flight

    Viral Post: 15-year-old girl helps blind, deaf man on Alaska flight

    Saturday, June 23 2018 2:08 AM EDT2018-06-23 06:08:40 GMT

    A 15-year-old girl's generosity has gone viral according to a Facebook post with nearly 300,000 shares. The post from Lynette Scribner describes a man, Tim Cook, who is both deaf and blind who was flying home to Portland unaccompanied after visiting his sister in Boston. 

    >>

    A 15-year-old girl's generosity has gone viral according to a Facebook post with nearly 300,000 shares. The post from Lynette Scribner describes a man, Tim Cook, who is both deaf and blind who was flying home to Portland unaccompanied after visiting his sister in Boston. 

    >>
  • Former Mead High School teacher accused of sexual relationship with student out on bail

    Former Mead High School teacher accused of sexual relationship with student out on bail

    Friday, June 22 2018 10:03 PM EDT2018-06-23 02:03:14 GMT

    Spokane, Wash. The 37-year-old former Mead High School spanish teacher was arrested last month accused of having sex with a student. Perez pleaded not guilty to the charge. But the judge set his bond at $100,000. It may have stayed that high if not for a letter from his wife to the judge. In the letter, Perez's wife pleaded with the judge to reduce the bond. Saying she works and overnight schedule and during the summer when Perez is off, she needs him at home to help with their three...

    >>

    Spokane, Wash. The 37-year-old former Mead High School spanish teacher was arrested last month accused of having sex with a student. Perez pleaded not guilty to the charge. But the judge set his bond at $100,000. It may have stayed that high if not for a letter from his wife to the judge. In the letter, Perez's wife pleaded with the judge to reduce the bond. Saying she works and overnight schedule and during the summer when Perez is off, she needs him at home to help with their three...

    >>
HD DOPPLER 6i
/
  • National NewsMore>>

  • Protests, rallies ensue during immigration situation

    Protests, rallies ensue during immigration situation

    Saturday, June 23 2018 8:20 PM EDT2018-06-24 00:20:59 GMT
    MGN ImageMGN Image

    McALLEN (AP) - The Latest on the separation of immigrant children from their parents following President Donald Trump's order allowing them to remain with their parents.

    >>

    McALLEN (AP) - The Latest on the separation of immigrant children from their parents following President Donald Trump's order allowing them to remain with their parents.

    >>
  • Estimated 230,000 gallons of oil spilled in Iowa train derailment

    Estimated 230,000 gallons of oil spilled in Iowa train derailment

    Saturday, June 23 2018 6:23 PM EDT2018-06-23 22:23:02 GMT
    Courtesy: Sioux County Sheriff - FacebookCourtesy: Sioux County Sheriff - Facebook

    DOON, Iowa (AP) - A railroad official says 14 of 32 derailed oil tanker cars in the northwest corner of Iowa dumped an estimated 230,000 gallons (870,619 liters) of crude oil into floodwaters, with some making its way to nearby rivers. BNSF spokesman Andy Williams confirmed the details Saturday. 

    >>

    DOON, Iowa (AP) - A railroad official says 14 of 32 derailed oil tanker cars in the northwest corner of Iowa dumped an estimated 230,000 gallons (870,619 liters) of crude oil into floodwaters, with some making its way to nearby rivers. BNSF spokesman Andy Williams confirmed the details Saturday. 

    >>
  • Police: Meridian officer shoots, kills man who pulled out handgun

    Police: Meridian officer shoots, kills man who pulled out handgun

    Saturday, June 23 2018 5:58 PM EDT2018-06-23 21:58:02 GMT

    MERIDIAN, Idaho (AP) - Authorities in southwestern Idaho say a Meridian police officer shot and killed a man who said he wasn't going back to jail and pulled a handgun from his waistband. Meridian police say officers at about 12:20 p.m. Saturday responded to a report of a domestic disturbance involving a knife.

    >>

    MERIDIAN, Idaho (AP) - Authorities in southwestern Idaho say a Meridian police officer shot and killed a man who said he wasn't going back to jail and pulled a handgun from his waistband. Meridian police say officers at about 12:20 p.m. Saturday responded to a report of a domestic disturbance involving a knife.

    >>
  • Top Stories from KHQHomeMore>>

  • Dozens turn out for Olympic Day at Spokane BMX

    Dozens turn out for Olympic Day at Spokane BMX

    Saturday, June 23 2018 8:38 PM EDT2018-06-24 00:38:19 GMT

    Dozens of kids and parents in Spokane kicked off the day celebrating International Olympic Day by taking to a new sport; BMX bike riding. 2008 summer Olympic bronze medalist Donny Robinson, who created the program, was at the track Saturday morning teaching kids as young as six years old how to ride a bike BMX style. 

    >>

    Dozens of kids and parents in Spokane kicked off the day celebrating International Olympic Day by taking to a new sport; BMX bike riding. 2008 summer Olympic bronze medalist Donny Robinson, who created the program, was at the track Saturday morning teaching kids as young as six years old how to ride a bike BMX style. 

    >>
  • Retired Spokane firefighter killed in ultralight crash remembered by family and friends

    Retired Spokane firefighter killed in ultralight crash remembered by family and friends

    Saturday, June 23 2018 8:27 PM EDT2018-06-24 00:27:47 GMT
    Ronny Weston (PHOTO: Facebook)Ronny Weston (PHOTO: Facebook)

    Cheney, Wash. Many including family and friends loved 64-year-old Ron Weston. He had a passion for making people laugh and lived a life full of adventure. Ron was also a Spokane firefighter and was the oldest recruit at the time. He was 45 years old and only retired five years ago after serving 14 years fighting fires. Many who knew Ron, knew he had a creative side. He loved building rat rods and sculpting anything out of metal. He sculpted this dragon which actually can breathe fire...

    >>

    Cheney, Wash. Many including family and friends loved 64-year-old Ron Weston. He had a passion for making people laugh and lived a life full of adventure. Ron was also a Spokane firefighter and was the oldest recruit at the time. He was 45 years old and only retired five years ago after serving 14 years fighting fires. Many who knew Ron, knew he had a creative side. He loved building rat rods and sculpting anything out of metal. He sculpted this dragon which actually can breathe fire...

    >>
  • Protests, rallies ensue during immigration situation

    Protests, rallies ensue during immigration situation

    Saturday, June 23 2018 8:20 PM EDT2018-06-24 00:20:59 GMT
    MGN ImageMGN Image

    McALLEN (AP) - The Latest on the separation of immigrant children from their parents following President Donald Trump's order allowing them to remain with their parents.

    >>

    McALLEN (AP) - The Latest on the separation of immigrant children from their parents following President Donald Trump's order allowing them to remain with their parents.

    >>