By Libby Casey
Alaska Republican Congressman Don Young voted with Democrats to extend emergency benefits for the nation’s long-term unemployed. He was one of 31 Republicans to support the bill. All but 10 Democrats voted for it. The final vote was 272 to 152.
Young’s office pointed to the state’s unemployment rate of 7.9 percent, and says that since people on the benefits must prove they’re looking for a job, the Congressman believes the extension will help what he calls “hard-working Alaskans down on their luck in the bad economy.”
President Obama signed the extension into law yesterday right after the House vote, giving retroactive benefits to those who were left without them in June. They’ll run through the end of November.
Even though Young voted for it, his fellow Alaskan Republican Lisa Murkowski in the Senate did not. She and other Republicans complained it would add to the debt, and wanted the 33 billion dollar price tag paid for. The political wrangling held up the bill for months, cutting off benefits to 2.5 million people nationwide.