Support Builds for Economic Stimulus Package

Support Builds for Economic Stimulus Package
Measure may include increased aid to education

Congress returns to work this month amid calls to pass an economic stimulus package that may include aid to education.
“As the unemployment rate has now hit a six-year high, the time to act has long passed,” says Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson, D-Texas, chairwoman of the Congressional Black Caucus.
Among all Americans, the unemployment rate of 5.8 percent for December is at a six-year high. But Johnson noted that the 10.2 percent African American unemployment rate for December was twice the corresponding rate for Whites. The Hispanic unemployment rate also increased to nearly 8 percent.
As part of any stimulus package, Johnson called for an extension of unemployment benefits for those whose aid is about to run out as well as for new investments in education and training to increase the skills of job seekers. Congress, she says, must “pass a real economic stimulus package that addresses the weaknesses in our economy.”
Increased aid to education is one part of a stimulus package proposed late last year by Senate Democrats, who control that chamber of Congress. Included in that plan was $2 billion in new job training funds and $7 billion to offset expected state cuts in many areas, including education. However, Republican leaders did not support the plan, which was shelved. President Bush and GOP leaders are pushing their own stimulus package that relies primarily on tax cuts. Congress returned to work Jan. 23. 



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