by Joan Entmacher, Vice President for Family Economic Security,
National Women's Law Center

We have great news! This week, the Senate voted 98-0 in support of helping struggling families by passing a desperately needed extension of unemployment benefits. Yesterday, the bill passed the House 403-12 — and President Obama is expected to sign the bill today.

The bill provides a 14-week extension of unemployment insurance benefits in all states, and an additional 6 weeks of benefits in states with over 8.5 percent unemployment. It also provides incentives to states to allow victims of sexual assault, as well as victims of domestic violence, to qualify for unemployment benefits if they have to leave a job. Other provisions were added to the bill, including an extension and expansion of the tax credit for home buyers and business tax credits.

With long-term unemployment at record levels, these extended benefits are essential to help families keep a roof over their heads and put food on the table. Over 1.3 million workers whose benefits would otherwise run out by the end of the year will benefit from this extension. More needs to be done to help jobless workers, but this bill is a step in the right direction.