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Sen. Hagan Steps Up Criticism Of State GOP Over Unemployment Benefits

U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan, flanked by state Rep. Rosa Gill (D-Wake) and state Sen. Josh Stein (D-Wake)
Jorge Valencia

U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan said on Monday that she’s pushing to make long-term unemployed people in North Carolina eligible again for federal emergency unemployment benefits.

Hagan, a Democrat, introduced a provision for a possible extension of nationwide unemployment benefits that would make North Carolina eligible again, she said. The state was disqualified from Emergency Unemployment Compensation last year after the Republican-led General Assembly reduced benefits at the state level.

On Monday, when Hagan spoke to reporters in Raleigh about her efforts, she criticized the legislature’s actions, which she said cut off 170,000 people in the state from benefits that could’ve amounted to $780 million in payments. North Carolina was the only state that became ineligible for benefits, she said.

 “This irresponsible and cold-hearted action by the General Assembly has been devastating to the thousands of individuals who are really struggling to make ends meet while looking for jobs,” Hagan said.

In a written response, North Carolina Senate Leader Phil Berger (R-Rockingham) and House Speaker Thom TIllis (R-Mecklenburg) said they had called on Hagan to take this type of action before July 1, when the state became ineligible.

“It’s about time Kay Hagan finally admitted she could have helped North Carolina’s long-term unemployed, but the fact is she’s a year late,” the GOP leaders said. “She dropped the ball and is now desperately trying to spin her way out of the damage she created.”

The U.S. Senate is scheduled for a vote Tuesday morning.

Jorge Valencia has been with North Carolina Public Radio since 2012. A native of Bogotá, Colombia, Jorge studied journalism at the University of Maryland and reported for four years for the Roanoke Times in Virginia before joining the station. His reporting has also been published in the Wall Street Journal, the Miami Herald, and the Baltimore Sun.
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