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Rep. Ocasio-Cortez to Introduce a Bill to Extend Federal Unemployment Insurance

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez during a virtual town hall Tuesday (Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez)

Sept. 15, 2021 By Allie Griffin

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez will introduce a bill in the House of Representatives this week to extend federal unemployment insurance through February, she announced Tuesday.

The federal unemployment benefits expired Sept. 6 — leaving millions of Americans without income as they look for work. An estimated 800,000 New York City residents lost all their benefits.

Ocasio-Cortez’s bill includes retroactive unemployment checks to cover the period beginning Sept. 6— while going through Feb. 1, 2022.

The congresswoman said cutting off aid to the unemployed at this time is a mistake, since the economy has yet to fully recover to pre-COVID-19 levels.

“I’ve been very disappointed on both sides of the aisle that we’ve just simply allowed pandemic unemployment assistance to completely lapse when we are clearly not fully recovered from the consequences of the pandemic,” Ocasio-Cortez said at her virtual town hall Tuesday evening. “I simply just could not allow this to happen without at least trying.”

New York City’s job market has been slow to recover, according to economists. The city is 510,000 payroll jobs short of its pre-COVID-19 peak, according to a recent study by The New School’s Center for New York City Affairs.

The loss of unemployment insurance is affecting up to 10 percent of New York City residents, Ocasio-Cortez said.

The congresswoman admitted that she didn’t know how viable her bill would be in the legislature, but said she couldn’t give up without at least trying to get it passed.

“I’m not entirely sure the prospects of it and I want to be completely honest with you all on that,” Ocasio-Cortez said to constituents during her town hall. “We will work it… even if the majority of the caucus is not onboard we are going to do our best to make that effort.”

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