[Congressional Record Volume 148, Number 132 (Wednesday, October 9, 2002)]
[Pages S10137-S10139]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]


  Mr. WELLSTONE. Madam President, shortly, a unanimous consent request 
will be made--and this is the third or fourth time--to pass S. 3009, 
the Emergency Unemployment Compensation Act of 2002, which I have 
introduced with the Presiding Officer, who has done so much work on 
this and Senator

[[Page S10138]]

Kennedy and others. This is the third or fourth time, and every day we 
are going to be making this request.
  To tell you the truth, I think it is absolutely unconscionable that 
the Senate has not acted on this and that the Republican leadership, 
each time, has thrown up a roadblock to extending unemployment 
benefits. Believe me, I would love nothing more than to be home 
campaigning, but I don't think we should leave here without extending 
unemployment benefits.
  In my State of Minnesota, there are 20,000 Minnesotans who have run 
out of unemployment benefits. Nationwide, there are about 900,000. I am 
sure many are in the State of New York, which the Chair represents. 
Colleagues, these are men and women who are hard-working, who have lost 
their jobs. The economy is flat. We are in economic trouble as a 
nation. It would be nice if the administration would get serious about 
the economy. How about a little bit of humanity?
  In the early 1990s when we went through this, we didn't hesitate to 
pass an extension of unemployment benefits under exactly the same 
circumstances. I think each time we had more than 95 votes, Republicans 
and Democrats alike. These are people who are flat on their backs 
through no fault of their own. They have run out of unemployment 
  There are two different issues here. One, if we don't extend it by 
the end of December, some people who are receiving the current 13 weeks 
of benefits get cut off in the middle. I guess there is some discussion 
in the House with the Republican leadership about helping them. But the 
larger question--and we must make sure they get full unemployment 
benefits--is people who have just run out of all their unemployment 
benefits. In Minnesota right now, twice as many people are looking for 
jobs as there are jobs available.
  I want to make the argument--and I don't have a lot of time--and it 
is a two- or threefold argument. First, I appeal to the humanity of 
everybody here. Just imagine--I don't know how many Senators have been 
out of work--when you have a family to support, unemployment benefits 
are a lifeline.
  We have a trust fund, and we have more than enough money to support 
this. We are not spending additional money out of general revenue.
  How many Senators have been through this? If you are out of work and 
you have run out of benefits, you cannot put food on the table. It is a 
terrifying situation. I think our common humanity dictates that we must 
do this. Today, I want this unanimous consent agreement to be agreed 
  Second of all, from an economic point of view, although I think a 
humanitarian appeal should be made, given a flat economy, you can count 
on it, Senators, that people who get an extension of unemployment 
benefits for an additional 13 weeks will be consuming because, believe 
me, they have to. They will be spending these dollars because they have 
  Right now, the problem is they don't have enough money to make ends 
meet month by month. So, actually, you are injecting a much-needed 
stimulus into the economy. So if the first argument doesn't move your 
soul--the humanitarian argument that this is the right thing to do for 
people who are in real trouble through no fault of their own--how about 
doing it for the economy?
  My third argument is--I know we are debating the resolution on Iraq--
but I have said over and over, and I am sure the Chair has picked this 
up as well--I like to talk to the State legislature candidates because 
their methodology of campaigning for office, as opposed to when one is 
campaigning statewide, is knocking on doors every day. They pound the 
doors 3 or 4 hours every evening.
  I ask them: What are you hearing? People are talking about how 
worried they are about the economy; some people are out of work; other 
people are worried they will be. They are talking about health care, 
health care, health care, as though people have not heard it before. In 
our State, given all the cuts in education, they are talking about 
education as well.
  It is a false dichotomy. It is not as if people back home are worried 
about the economy but are not worried about Iraq, or are not worried 
about terrorists. They are worried about all of it, and all of us 
should be worried about all of it.
  I think the people I represent in Minnesota believe we are a great 
enough and a good enough country we can deal with our challenges in 
international affairs and, at the same time, we can deal with 
challenges that affect people in our country and our local communities, 
our families.
  I do not understand this false dichotomy where apparently the 
administration and my colleagues on the other side of the aisle think 
we cannot address any of these economic issues. Apparently, they think 
we cannot focus on any domestic issues any longer; cannot even provide 
an extension of unemployment benefits to people. I believe some 
colleagues do not want to do this because they feel it is an admission 
the economy is not doing that well. The economy is not doing that well. 
We should wake up and smell the coffee.
  The people I represent are still waiting on the Federal Government to 
provide the resources we said we were going to provide for schools, 
education, and our kids. The House Republican leadership and the Senate 
Republican leadership do not want to bring an appropriations bill out 
here that deals with education. We could easily provide more funding 
for Pell grants, making higher education not less but more accessible.
  We certainly should provide more funding for special education which 
would help all of our districts, and provide more funding for title I.
  Again, the Republican leadership and the White House do not want 
anything to do with it. I am going to a press conference in a couple of 
minutes on--that sounds melodramatic, life or death; it is a bit like 
unemployment benefits--disaster relief. I have never been in the Senate 
when we have not provided disaster relief.
  The people in northwest Minnesota are flooded out, they are gone, it 
is over for them, and this administration is opposed to this bill. I 
have never voted against disaster relief in any part of the country. If 
something happens in New York, Madam President, I will vote for the 
money the people need. People do not ask for hurricanes, tornadoes, 
fire, and flooding, but if it should happen to the people in Minnesota, 
I ask you to support that.
  Whatever happened to some sense of community? Whatever happened to 
compassionate conservatism? Compassionate conservatism dictates, at the 
very minimum, before we leave that the Senate pass this legislation I 
have introduced to extend unemployment benefits. I will come out to the 
Senate Chamber and give enough speeches to deafen all the gods until 
this is done. Frankly, I think on the other side of the aisle, 
people should feel uneasy and uncomfortable in blocking this 
legislation. They are putting up a roadblock to providing help to 
people who really need the help.

  This is the right thing to do. It is certainly profamily, it is 
certainly prochildren, and it is certainly compassionate. I do not know 
what the delay is. Time is not neutral for a lot of people.
  Madam President, by way of concluding--I know other colleagues are 
going to be out on the floor--I thank the Presiding Officer, since, as 
the Presiding Officer, she cannot speak for herself, at least for this 
moment--she does a good job speaking for herself, otherwise, all the 
time. Madam President, you have been a leader in bringing this before 
the Senate. I thank you for doing that.
  We are not going to let up until this legislation is passed. I yield 
the floor.
  The ACTING PRESIDENT pro tempore. Who yields time?
  Mr. WELLSTONE. Madam President, we did not suggest the absence of a 
  The ACTING PRESIDENT pro tempore. No.
  Mr. WELLSTONE. Madam President, I am going to be joined by Senator 
Kennedy in just a moment. He will be making a request, and we will wait 
for a response on the part of our colleague.
  While I am waiting for Senator Kennedy, let me say again I think we 
have a huge disconnect between some of what is going on in the Senate--
or what is not going on in the Senate--and the people we represent.
  In Minnesota--I do not know about other States--people in Minnesota 
cannot understand for the life of them what in the world is the delay 
in extending unemployment benefits. People in Minnesota do not know 
that in

[[Page S10139]]

the early nineties we passed similar legislation and did it in a 
bipartisan way. They do not know there is plenty of precedent for it. 
And they do not know all about unanimous consent, and how one Senator 
can object, and all of the rest.
  What people do have in Minnesota is a sense of right and wrong. Let's 
talk values for a moment. The values of people in Minnesota are when 
the economy goes south--I know some of my colleagues do not like to 
talk about the economy--when the economy is flat, and when so many 
people have lost their jobs and are hurting, and their families are 
hurting, people in Minnesota believe we ought to reach out and help 
  This legislation I have introduced, with the support of Senator 
Kennedy and Senator Clinton, should pass today. I see my colleague, 
Senator Kennedy, is in the Chamber. I yield the floor.
  The ACTING PRESIDENT pro tempore. The Senator from Massachusetts.