Congressman Paul E. Kanjorski (PA-11) Thursday voted for H.R. 3548, Worker, Homeownership, and Business Assistance Act of 2009, which passed in the House by a vote of 403-12. The bill will extend emergency unemployment insurance for another 20 weeks for Pennsylvanians to help the many individuals and families that have been forced out of their jobs as a result of the troubling economic situation. Pennsylvanians who have been unable to find jobs can now receive a total of 79 weeks of unemployment insurance. The legislation will also extend the tax credit for homebuyers which was originally implemented through the recovery package.
"As unemployment rates at all levels continue to increase, it is clear that laid-off workers need greater assistance until they can find jobs and get back on their feet," said Congressman Kanjorski. "The many families that are personally feeling the effects of the slowing economy will receive benefits for a longer period to help them through these difficult times. By providing this assistance to families which have temporarily lost wages, we benefit the entire economy because those dollars will be immediately spent on needed goods and services."
Unemployment insurance is temporary income for workers who are unemployed through no fault of their own. Regular unemployment insurance provides up to 26 weeks of benefits. Emergency unemployment insurance is a federally funded program created in 2008 to provide additional benefits of up to 34 weeks, and an additional 19 weeks of benefits for those living in states with high unemployment. Pennsylvanians qualify to receive the additional 19 weeks.
The extension is fully paid for and aims to help boost the local economy, while helping those who are unemployed. The Congressional Budget Office has cited unemployment benefits as one of the most cost-effective forms of economic stimulus, and every dollar spent on unemployment benefits generates $1.63 in new demand, according to Moody's chief economist Mark Zandi.
State unemployment offices should notify individuals who have almost exhausted their regular benefits to make them aware of their potential eligibility for emergency unemployment benefits. Once eligible individuals apply, they should receive extended benefits with very little or no gap in coverage.
Additionally, the legislation will extend the $8,000 tax credit for first-time homebuyers through April 30, 2010. It also provides a $6,500 tax credit to new home purchasers who have lived in their current residences for five years or more. It also helps military families struggling to make mortgage payments by making those payments tax-exempt.
"The homebuyer tax credit has first and foremost provided a valuable resource for many individuals and families to help them to buy a home for the first time, as long as they have the financial means to afford it. It has also helped stimulate our economy by encouraging responsible investments in a part of the market that was deeply affected by our country's financial problems," said Congressman Kanjorski.
H.R. 3548 passed in the Senate on Wednesday by a vote of 98-0. It will now go to the President for his signature.