Rep. Keith Ellison has joined members of the Congressional Black Caucus to call on House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) to support an extension of federal unemployment benefits through 2012.
"Needing unemployment assistance is about being unable to find work in a weak economy with limited job opportunities," caucus members collectively wrote last week in a letter to House leaders. "Federal long-term benefits are essential supports."
In a statement accompanying the letter, Ellison noted that overall unemployment has dropped to 8.6 percent while African-American unemployment remains in the double digits, slightly rising to 15.5 percent.
The letter also called on Boehner and Pelosi to "create jobs."
'GOP Willing to Make Americans Suffer'
Ellison also weighed in on the debate on whether to extend the payroll tax holiday. Currently, many Americans are enjoying a holiday from paying the social security tax, a move instituted to spur consumer spending.
"They’re so committed to [seeing Obama fail in 2012] that they’re willing to make a vast amount of Americans suffer," Ellison said, according to MinnPost.
Sugar Company Should Return to Table
In a letter to the CEO of American Crystal Sugar—currently operating with temporary replacement workers while their regular employees remain locked out—Ellison called on the company to return to contract negotiations with the plant's union. He highlighted the company's previously good relations with the union, according to the Crookston Daily Times, but said he has “concerns about American Crystal Sugar’s decision to end good faith contract negotiations” and “bring in replacement workers from within the community and outside the region.” The lockout hurts loyal employees and Minnesota’s economy, Ellison writes.
Will Occupy Wall Street Give Liberal Dems a Boost?
As some Occupy Wall Street activists picketed a Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee fundraiser in Washington, D.C., Ellison also speculated on the political impact of Occupy Wall Street, in a report by Roll Call.
"Will they be a voting force? Don't know. I think what they would say is if you give us something to vote for, we'll vote," Ellison said. "So we've got to be fighting for the issues that we all know we need to fight for."
Ellison's Opponents Start Revving Their Engines
Minnesota's Fifth District may not have had a non-Democrat representing it for half a century, but that hasn't stopped several Republicans from lining up for a chance to oppose Ellison in the 2012 elections. Lynne Torgerson, Chris Fields and Michael Katch at a VFW hall in Minneapolis, and with Southwest Minneapolis Patch about his political vision.