Today, the President signed into law H.R. 6867, the Unemployment Compensation Extension Act of 2008, which extends unemployment insurance benefits for more than 2 million Americans. The bill, supported by Congressman Smith, passed the House on October 3, 2008, was cleared by the Senate yesterday.

“With the unemployment rate at a 16-year high and a weakening economy, it is imperative that Congress act to protect struggling Americans,” said Congressman Adam Smith. “Not only are people losing their jobs, but individuals out of work are struggling to regain their financial footing. This extension of unemployment insurance benefits provides critical support and a measure of economic safety in these troubling times. I applaud the Senate for passing this bill and am pleased the President quickly signed it into law.”

The Unemployment Compensation Extension Act, H.R. 6867, provides an additional seven weeks of unemployment insurance benefits for workers who have exhausted their regular unemployment compensation, and an additional 13 weeks for workers in states with an average seasonally-adjusted unemployment rates of 6% or higher for three months. Washington state is currently experiencing an unemployment rate of 6.8 percent, based upon October 2008 Department of Labor data.

H.R. 6867 will provide relief to America’s workers and stimulate the economy. Extending these benefits is one of the most cost-effective and fast-acting ways to stimulate the economy because the money is spent quickly, according to the Congressional Budget Office. 

Some key components of the bill include that it will provide:

Approximately $6 billion in benefits to be paid from the Federal unemployment trust fund, which has more than enough reserves to cover the cost;
An additional 7 weeks of extended unemployment benefits for workers who have exhausted regular unemployment compensation; 
An additional 13 weeks of benefits workers in high-unemployment states.