Fitzpatrick Under Pressure to Support Unemployment Insurance Extension without Drug Testing Attached — As deadline looms, Bucks County citizens demand passage of bill to help 173,000 in Pennsylvania
The Rev. Sandra L. Strauss, Director of Public Advocacy, Pennsylvania
Council of Churches
Father Ernie Curtin, St. Luke’s Episcopal Church of Newtown
Arianne Sellers, Bucks Count resident
Frank Arcoleo, Bucks County resident
More photos here.
LANGHORNE, PA — Concerned Bucks County residents rallied outside Rep.
Fitzpatrick’s district office today to demand a clean year-long
extension to Unemployment Insurance and Payroll Tax Cuts. They
delivered dozens of constituent statements in support of the
Unemployment Insurance system and in opposition to drug testing
attached to the program. In December, an agreement was reached
between President Obama and Congress to extend benefits until the end
of February, 2012. An extension through the end of 2012 is currently
under intense debate in Congress.
“Why is it that in a time when many hard working Americans are
struggling to get jobs, public officials call us “free loaders” and
attack the Unemployment Insurace as a waste of tax dollars? Didn’t we
pay those Unemployment Insurance premiums ourselves? Why must you
further degrade us through drug testing and other senseless
application obstacles?” asked Arianne Sellers in an open letter to
Congressman Fitzpatrick. Ms. Sellers is a recent college graduate,
who has experience helping people navigate the Unemployment Insurance
system. “It already is a complicated process to apply for UI with
stringent requirements,” Sellers said.
In addition to the federal legislation, some conservative lawmakers in
Harrisburg are pushing for a bill that would require unemployment
insurance applicants to submit to drug tests or have a GED.
“Republicans are treating thousands of Pennsylvanians like criminals,”
said Penn Action organizer, Robin Stelly. “This is not the time to
handcuff more than 173,000 of Pennsylvania’s most vulnerable to
ridiculous tests and requirements that cause them to lose their right
to these benefits.”
“I want to be optimistic that our members of Congress, including Rep.
Fitzpatrick, will support the moral decisions to extend emergency
unemployment benefits and payroll tax reductions that are necessary to
support our most vulnerable brothers and sisters at a time when they
need it the most. And I believe that we have the power in our hands,
as people of faith, to demand better,” Sandy Strauss of the
Pennsylvania Council of Churches stated.
Last month, the economy added over 243,000 jobs in the private sector.
Over the past 23 months the private sector has created over 3.7
million jobs, including 2.2 million in the last year alone.