Congressman Adam Smith (D-Tacoma) released the following statement today on the passage of 13 additional weeks of federally funded benefits to jobless workers who have exhausted their 26 weeks of regular unemployment benefits.  S. 23, the Unemployment Insurance Benefits Extension Act provides jobless workers in all states who exhaust their 26 weeks of regular benefits between now and the end of May with an additional 13 weeks of benefits.  In the three states with the highest unemployment figures, currently Alaska, Oregon and Washington, jobless workers who have exhausted their 26 weeks of regular benefits would be eligible for 26 additional weeks of benefits.  The extension is retroactive to December 28th.  Those who had their benefits cut off on that date would receive the remainder of their 13 weeks.  Those who exhausted both their 26 weeks of regular benefits and 13 weeks of extended benefits last year do not receive any additional benefits.  

“Washington state has one of the highest unemployment rates in the nation, 6.6 percent, and people need help now.  45,400 Washingtonians lost their desperately needed unemployment benefits on December 28 when the clock ran out on the temporary extension.  But the fact remains that there are still layoffs and budget cuts being announced daily around our state, and the state’s budget crisis only compounds our unemployment security problem,” said Smith.  “Today’s legislation will finally get critical help to needy Washington families.  But we need to make sure that Washington’s families will not just make it through the next few tough weeks, but also have greater economic security until they can get themselves back on track.  We’ve got to our economy back in the black with a short-term plan that not only includes an economic stimulus, but a long-term plan to get our budget deficits under control and grow the economy.”