It's going to be a busy year for Rep. Jim McDermott. And it should be. With a commanding Democratic majority in Congress and a popular Democratic President, Democratic House veterans like McDermott, are finally going to be expected to produce.


 On Jan. 14, the House Democratic Caucus confirmed McDermott as chair of the House Ways and Means Subcommittee on Income Security and Family Support, a thirteen-member tax-writing panel concerned primarily with unemployment security and child welfare.


 McDermott recently began his 11th term in the House of Representatives and has spent several years on the subcommittee. (Not sure why he only just got the chairmanship? But, we’ll take it.)


McDermott’s subcommittee recently set its sights on substantial unemployment insurance reform.


 Taking advantage of the Obama stimulus plan, a pending $825 billion program that includes money for education and Medicaid as well as for unemployment benefits, McDermott is  pushing  the Unemployment Insurance Modernization Act, which proposes up to $7 billion for states to use to extend their unemployment insurance programs to groups that have long fallen outside the programs' nets, mostly low-wage workers and part-time employees. 


 "The system was basically created for a country that doesn't exist anymore," said Mike DeCesare, McDermott's spokesperson. "The current safety nets were woven three-quarters of a century ago," 


The concern is that current programs make it impossible for low wage earners, part-time workers, and women displaced by domestic violence to claim unemployment insurance benefits.


McDermott's office said they expect the money for the projects to come out of Obama's economic stimulus package.



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