The Senate has just moved forward on legislation extending emergency unemployment benefits for 1.3 million Americans who lost them at the end of last year, and now President Obama is continuing his push for Congressional action with a statement delivered from the White House. A live video feed is above and as he delivers his remarks, we'll post updates.
Although the extension has moved forward in the Senate, it hasn't yet passed. If and when it does, House Republicans will need to back off their Scrooge-like opposition to unemployment benefit extension.
8:42 AM PT: As we wait for the president, House Speaker John Boehner weighs in with a big fat dose of misdirection:
8:53 AM PT: And here's the president.
8:55 AM PT: He's joined by a group of unemployed people. One of them, speaks before the president, talking about the sacrifices she has made while unemployed, but on how essential the benefits are while she looks for a new job. Heartbreaking story—makes it clear just how heartless the S.O.B.'s in Congress are who are stonewalling on the benefits.
8:57 AM PT: President Obama starts out by talking about economic growth and how the deficit has shrunk by half during his term.
8:59 AM PT: After saying that he's pleased Congress started to unwind the sequester, President Obama says extending unemployment benefits should be the first priority of Congress in 2014. He makes it clear the the benefits are a crucial lifeline for people who lost work through no fault of their own and haven't yet been able to find a new job. This isn't some right-wing fantasy about moochers — it's the real people, who are really hurting, and really need help.
9:00 AM PT: "When we've got the mom of two of our troops ... who's wearing a coat inside of her house [because she can't afford to turn up the heat], we've got a problem."
9:02 AM PT: "This is not an abstraction. These are your friends, your neighbors. It could be, at any moment, any of us." That's why we set up the unemployment insurance system, President Obama says.
9:03 AM PT: In addition to the values case, President Obama points out that economists say that UI benefits also boost the economy. In other words, this is a moral imperative, and this is a smart business move. It's something only today's Republican Party could even dream of opposing.
9:05 AM PT: This is the kind of moment where a little flash of presidential anger would be important, because these S.O.B.'s who are blocking this aid are really, really out of line.
9:09 AM PT: "Congress should pass this right away, and I'll sign it right away."
9:12 AM PT: The president wraps up his remarks: "Let's get this done."