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DeFazio Talks with the Unemployed

Peter DeFazio StillEUGENE, Ore. — A group of about 30 people met with Rep. Peter DeFazio to share their stories of unemployment and why it’s critical to reinstate long-term unemployment benefits.

They come from a number of different backgrounds and walks of life, but folks who spoke with him Wednesday have one thing in common: a need for long-term unemployment benefits.

“Was laid off back in April due to budget cuts. Since then I’ve spent all my unemployment money,” said Manuel Esperanza.

They’re all out of work.

“Even with connections at restaurants with old management and friends, when there’s an open position I still don’t even get anything, not much less a five-minute interview,” said Patrick Pillette.

They’ve been out of work for a lengthy period of time.

“My benefits were on the extension about two to three weeks before the federal was cut off. And this was the first time I ever withdrew unemployment. I’ve never been on unemployment before,” said Carleen McCaffery.

Those who met with representative DeFazio urged him to take their voices with him back to Washington.

A few weeks ago, a democratic bill to extend unemployment benefits for three months passed through the U.S. Senate. Now it’s in the hands of the House of Representatives.

For the sake of those who need the benefits most, they hope Washington makes that push.

“I’m up, you know, in a really, really bad place where you know I’m really scared that something bad’s going to happen to me,” Pillette said.

“We’re one month away from being homeless. And no child should have to live like that. You know I didn’t have children thinking ‘oh hey, we’re going to live out of food boxes,'” said Christopher Green.

A number of people who spoke with Rep. DeFazio said the assumption that they’re just looking for a handout is just not true.

“My last day of full-time employment was May of 2012. Since that time I have interviewed for over 255 positions,” said David Conroy.

DeFazio says that hard work isn’t going unnoticed.

“Most Americans, you know what you do is who you are, and these people feel like they’re becoming nobody,” DeFazio said.

Rep. DeFazio says he knows there are some republicans in Washington who will support the extension. The final outcome will be decided during the next few days. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid will need to clear a second 60 vote to bring the measure to a final vote.

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