Congress
6:00 am
Mon January 20, 2014

Durbin Pushing To Extend Unemployment Benefits

Dick Durbin
U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin speaks with reporters Sunday, Jan. 19, 2014, outside his home in Springfield.
Credit Brian Mackey/WUIS

Illinois U.S. Senator Dick Durbin continues to push for an extension of unemployment benefits. He says it’ll be the first priority when the U.S. Senate reconvenes next week.

Durbin says 83,000 Illinoisans lost unemployment benefits on January first.

“By the end of the year, 230,000 unemployed people in our state will be cut off from unemployment benefits,” Durbin says.

Republicans have called extension of unemployment a “Band-Aid,” done at the expense of a more long-term solution to help people succeed in the modern economy.

But Durbin says this is the same thinking that’s led Republicans to block spending on food assistance and oppose an increase in the minimum wage.

"They feel that if people are not doing well economically, it’s because they’re lazy," Durbin says. "I disagree. I think a lot of people are working very, very hard, and can’t keep up with the increased cost of living."

Years after the end of the recession, Illinois continues to have one of the worst unemployment rates in the country.