Last Updated on March 17, 2010 by Paulette Brown-Hinds

Special to the NNPA from the Seattle Medium –

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Republican Senators have obstructed passage of an amendment by U. S. Sens. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) and John Kerry (D-Mass.) that would have saved at least 100,000 jobs for struggling parents and created up to 500,000 jobs and training opportunities for young people across the country.

“I am extremely disappointed that once again the Republicans have shown that they care more about scoring political points than putting people to work,” said Sen. Murray.

“This amendment would expand and extend the extremely successful summer jobs program that has created hundreds of thousands of jobs, provided a boost to the economy, and changed the lives of so many young people around the country. Summer jobs programs help families, communities, and businesses by providing jobs and training to the young people who need it most.”

Sen. Kerry said, “This was an amendment to help those hardest hit by the recession and it would have brought significant relief to my state and states across the country…We’re going to get back up, dust ourselves off, and go back to bat on this issue because it’s just too important and too many families are counting on us.”

Adds Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), “It’s a shame this important amendment was blocked because it would have created 500,000 summer jobs for young people … In this time of high unemployment, the Senate must act to help working and middle-class families.”

The Senators’ amendment would extend for six months the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) Emergency Fund, which was first created as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA). Last month, Senator Kerry and 21 colleagues sent a letter to Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) requesting an extension of the emergency fund.

This amendment would also commit $1.3 billion to create up to 500,000 jobs through the Workforce Investment Act in order to build on and expand last year’s successful summer jobs program that put over 300,000 young people to work across the country, stimulated local economies, and provided at-risk youth with the skills and training they need to succeed in the workforce.

States are relying on the TANF Emergency Fund to provide basic cash assistance, short-term benefits, and subsidized employment programs to increasing numbers of poor families with children.

Currently, thirty states and the District of Columbia have used this fund to create more than 100,000 jobs for low-income parents. The Senators’ legislation will save those jobs.

The amendment is offset by two separate provisions. The first offset, known as “intelligent assignment,” would provide the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) with the authority to enroll low-income Medicare beneficiaries into prescription drug plans that reduce their out-of-pocket costs and cover the drugs they are prescribed. The second offset eliminates the Advanced Earned Income Tax Credit (AEITC). The President proposed eliminating the AEITC in his Fiscal Year 2011 budget request because it is used by very few taxpayers and has a very high error rate.