Merkley Statement on Middle Class Tax Cuts and Unemployment Insurance Compromise

Washington, DC- Oregon’s Senator Jeff Merkley released the following statement after passage of an extension of the payroll tax cuts and unemployment insurance.

“I supported this bill today with substantial reservations,” Merkley said. “On the one hand, it preserves the payroll tax cut for Oregon’s hard-working families. Without passage, average Oregon families would face a $1,000 tax hike. On the other hand, the bill included an unemployment insurance provision that will hit Oregon hard.  Approximately 15,000 out-of-work Oregonians will still lose their access to unemployment insurance. In these tough economic times, we should not cut the lifeline that is keeping these Oregonians afloat.”

The bill includes a provision terminating 20 weeks of extended benefits in states where unemployment is no higher than it was three years earlier, a category which includes Oregon. The maximum benefit will be 79 weeks instead of 99 weeks, and current estimates are that 15,000 Oregonians would lose benefits. Without the bill’s extension of federal unemployment insurance, the benefit would have been cut from 99 weeks to 26 weeks and many thousands more Oregonians would have been affected.