In his weekly radio and Internet address Saturday, President Barack Obama urged Congress to restore jobless benefits for more than a million Americans, saying a failure to do so would slow the economy for everyone, the Associated Press reports.
The AP says that a bipartisan proposal in the Senate would restore benefits for three months and that the president pledged to sign it. The benefits expired last month and were not included in a two-year budget deal passed by Congress before the holidays.
Calling the program a “vital economic lifeline,” Obama said it helped parents trying to feed children while they looked for work, the New York Times reports. “And denying families that security is just plain cruel,” the president said in the talk that was taped before his scheduled departure for Washington on Saturday night, after two weeks in Hawaii, the Times reports. “We’re a better country than that. We don’t abandon our fellow Americans when times get tough; we keep the faith with them until they start that new job," the Times reports.
Additionally, the Times reports that Obama said, “Instead of punishing families who can least afford it, Republicans should make it their New Year’s resolution to do the right thing and restore this vital economic security for their constituents right now.”
Some Republican lawmakers, including House Speaker John A. Boehner of Ohio, are reportedly open to renewing the benefits as long as the cost can be offset, the Times reports. They have complained that Democrats did not offer such a plan before leaving the capital last month.