01/05/2012 11:47 am ET Updated Mar 06, 2012

Republican Brinksmanship Must End

Millions of long-term unemployed Americans and their families breathed a temporary sigh of relief late last year after House Republicans -- at the 11th hour -- reluctantly agreed to extend federal unemployment insurance into the new year.

"I am crying I am so relieved for the 2 months of relief," one woman wrote on the Extend UI Facebook page. For House Republicans, whose repeated brinksmanship led to gridlock in Congress, threatening to cut off benefits to the unemployed seemed to be a matter of political gamesmanship. For many of the jobless, though, a temporary extension was a matter of keeping a roof over their heads.

Never in our nation's recorded history have so many Americans remained unemployed for so long. Not since the Great Depression have we seen such a sustained period of high unemployment. And never before has Congress not extended federal unemployment programs with the nation's unemployment rate above 7.2 percent. In November, it stood at 8.6 percent.

All of that to say that it is vital that House Republicans return to Washington more reasonable than when they left. American families should not again have to face the kind of enormous uncertainty that Republicans created last month. There is far too much at stake for millions of families around the country.

Follow our efforts to extend federal unemployment insurance for a full year on the Extend Unemployment Insurance Facebook page.