11/30/2011 10:55 am ET Updated Jan 30, 2012

This Is No Time To End Unemployment Benefits

Every day it seems, I read another report from economists telling us the importance of extending unemployment benefits to help our fragile economy recover.

And there's no doubt -- helping millions of unemployed Americans during the worst downturn since the Great Depression -- fuels the economy and jobs.

But especially as the holidays near, economics isn't everything. What about our humanity? What about our commitment to one another as human beings?

With nearly 14 million unemployed and five workers actively seeking work for every job available, the thought of Congress leaving town to go home for some holiday cheer and leave the unemployed twisting in the winter wind is unfathomable.

In my home state of Georgia alone, more than 77,000 workers could lose their benefits.
How can we let that happen?

According to estimates by the National Employment Law Project, if we do not reach agreement by next month, more than 2 million Americans could lose their benefits by February 2012.

How can we turn our backs on families that rely on that money to put food on the table, clothe their children, and make the rent and mortgage payments that keep them in their homes?

Many of these are hard-working Americans who lost their jobs through no fault of their own. People who once had promising careers or secure jobs, who are now struggling just to get by. Some haven't worked for more than two years!

Congress needs to wake up and act. It's time to pass Reps. Doggett's (D-TX) and Levin's (D-MI) Emergency Unemployment Compensation Extension Act, which will extend unemployment insurance through 2012. I am a proud original co-sponsor of this essential bill.

It's the right thing to do for our fragile economic recovery, but more importantly it's the right thing to do for our humanity. Wake up Congress and take a peak outside the walls of the Capitol - Americans need our help now.