U-S Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) said one of his first priorities when the Senate reconvenes will be to call for an extension of unemployment benefits.
Durbin said 83,000 Illinoisans lost unemployment benefits on January 1.
“By the end of the year, 230,000 unemployed people in our state will be cut off from unemployment benefits,” Durbin told reporters during a news conference outside his home.
Republicans have called extension of unemployment a “Band-Aid,” done at the expense of a more long-term solution to help people succeed.
But Durbin said 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. I disagree. I think a lot of people are working very, very hard, and can’t keep up with the increased cost of living,” Durbin said.
Years after the end of the recession, Illinois continues to have one of the worst unemployment rates in the country.