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Rahall asks U.S. Congress to extend emergency unemployment assistance

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A former Huntington hospice worker went before the United States Congress to express concerns hovering around the need for unemployment assistance.

Lisa Floyd, the former hospice worker, was welcomed by U.S. Rep. Nick Rahall, D-W.Va., to testify in Congress in support of the Federal safety net program.

"Unemployment assistance is not a luxury; it is the difference between barely scraping by and falling off the financial cliff," Rahall said. "For many families, the program is the only thing keeping them from losing their home, the only thing that enables them to continue putting food on the family dinner table, the only thread keeping them aloft as they search for work."

Rahall met with the Huntington woman prior to her testimony about the need for the government to work to assist hardworking families.

Floyd, who worked all of her adult life, described her furious search for work upon losing her job and the impact the federally funded program had on her life. She said the unemployment assistance enabled her to bridge the gap to a new job, preventing her from losing her house and enabling her to buy groceries and pay essential bills while she sought work.

"Though the economy is improving, growth is sluggish, leaving many Americans on an extended hunt for employment," Rahall said. "Unless emergency unemployment assistance is extended, more than a million workers across the country face the fiscal cliff in the New Year.

"Congress must act to spare them."

Unless Congress acts to extend the current unemployment programs, they will expire in Dec. 28, 2013. According to the U.S. Labor Department and the Council of Economic Advisors, failure to extend the program would be harmful to millions of workers and families.

More than 1.3 million long-term unemployed workers would lose their unemployment benefits at once at the end of December and millions more would have no benefits after their initial 26 weeks of unemployment insurance payments are exhausted during the course of 2014.

Since 1948, Congress has never allowed extended unemployment benefits to expire.