PI Original Adam Doster Wednesday September 23rd, 2009, 10:25am

Roskam Opposes Unemployment Extension, Kirk Misses Vote (UPDATE: Giannoulias Responds)

(See Alexi Giannoulias' response below the fold.)

As we noted last night, the U.S. House has officially approved -- by a wide margin --  H.R. 3548,
a bill that would provide an additional 13 weeks of unemployment
insurance to workers from 27 states (as well as the ...

(See Alexi Giannoulias' response below the fold.)

As we noted last night, the U.S. House has officially approved -- by a wide margin --  H.R. 3548, a bill that would provide an additional 13 weeks of unemployment insurance to workers from 27 states (as well as the District of Colombia and Puerto Rico) where unemployment rates top 8.5 percent. For the 20,000 workers in Illinois who have already exhausted their benefits and the 50,000 more who will do so at the end of the year, the short-term assistance could help prevent financial collapse. The extension will also spur consumer spending, one major goal of the Obama administration's stimulus plan. "With the unemployment rate in Illinois at over 10 percent," Rep. Phil Hare said after the vote, "it makes perfect sense to continue to provide unemployment benefits so ordinary people can pay their bills and hold onto their homes."

Not according to two of Hare's Republican colleagues from Illinois. Rep. Peter Roskam was one of just 83 representatives to vote against the bill. Meanwhile, U.S. Senate candidate Mark Kirk -- along with Democratic Reps. Jesse Jackson Jr. and Bobby Rush -- missed that vote and the two other roll calls taken yesterday evening.

In the past, Jackson and Rush have consistently supported extending unemployment benefits.  But how would Kirk voted if he had been in attendance?

It's hard to know.  Last year around this time, Kirk voted in favor of a bill to provide an additional 13 weeks of jobless benefits.  However, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee points out in a press release this morning that he has previously "voted at least eight times" against extending benefits that were about to run out (6/11/08, 6/12/08, 2/4/04, 6/3/04, 5/22/03, 5/15/03, 1/8/03, 10/24/01).

What we do know is that, around the time the roll call was taking place in D.C., Kirk tweeted that his Senate campaign was "currently working on a site redesign." I'm sure the unemployed in Illinois will be happy to hear that ...

The Senate is expected to approve the extension quickly, which would take effect as soon as it is signed into law. We'll be sure to provide more updates as they surface.

UPDATE (12:00 PM): Democratic Senate candidate Alexi Giannoulias just put out the following statement in response to Kirk's missed vote:

"Congressman Mark Kirk can't decide whether tens of thousands looking for work here in Illinois should be able to keep their benefits. Wherever you were tweeting from in Washington, Congressman, you should know there is a recession back here in Illinois and people are hurting. After all, it was your votes that helped put thousands of Illinoisans out of work to begin with," said Giannoulias.

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