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Dems Press to Restore Jobless Benefits

January 6, 2014

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Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (file photo)

Democrats pressed for restoring extended jobless benefits for 1.3 million Americans as lawmakers prepared to return from their recess Monday.

But House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, said the long-term benefits would not be restored unless offset by spending cuts.

The benefits, which expired at the end of December, were not included in a two-year budget deal Congress reached before adjourning for the winter break.

"The first thing we want to get done is extend unemployment benefits," Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., told Fox News in an interview Sunday.

Reid scheduled a preliminary vote on the issue Monday.

Reid told CBS' "Face the Nation" he hoped Senate Democrats would get the 60 votes they'd need to advance the legislation.

He said he was particularly hopeful because Sen. Dean Heller, R-Nev., has co-sponsored the bill for a three-month extension with Sen. Jack Reed, D-R.I.

Nevada and Rhode Island are tied with the nation's highest unemployment rate, 9 percent, the Labor Department said last week.

Democrats need at least four more Republican votes to advance a motion to proceed to the bill, Reid told the program.

The vast majority of Americans, including Republican voters, support extending the benefits, Reid said, calling Republican lawmakers who don't support it "out of touch with what's going on in America today."

"Republicans around America want us to do something to extend these benefits," Reid said. "Why? Because it's good for the economy. It's good for the country."

Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., told ABC's "This Week" GOP lawmakers -- especially those with congressional races approaching at the end of the year -- should help restore unemployment benefits.

"If they don't, it's going to be an election in 2014," he said.

Schumer also said it was "a bit insulting to American workers" when Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., said on the program extending jobless insurance was a "disincentive" for people to search for jobs.

Paul said, "The the longer you have it, that it provides some disincentive to work, and that there are many studies that indicate this."

Paul, who has said he is considering a campaign for the Republican presidential nomination in 2016, also said he did not object to extending unemployment insurance as long as it was fully funded and done in a way that stimulated job growth, such as through tax breaks for areas with high unemployment.

"I've always said that I'm not opposed to unemployment insurance," he said. "I am opposed to having it without paying for it."

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Original headline: Democrats press to restore benefits for jobless Americans


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