3-month unemployment extension blocked again by Senate Republicans

SOURCE: reid.senate.gov

Senate Republicans once again blocked a 3-month extension of the federal emergency compensation that would have restored benefits to 1.7 million out-of-work Americans looking for a job. 

Read more: List of 42 Republican Senators who voted against extending emergency unemployment benefits on Feb. 6, 2014

S. 1845, the Emergency Unemployment Compensation Extension Act, failed by a vote of 55 to 43 last Thursday. The bill needed 60 votes to overcome a filibuster.

The Feb. 6th vote marked the second time this year that Senate Republicans have stonewalled efforts to extend unemployment compensation benefits, which expired in late December affecting 1.3 million Americans at the time.

The short-term UI extension also failed on Jan. 14th. On both occasions, only one Republican – Sen. Dean Heller of Nevada, the bill’s co-sponsor – voted for the UI benefits.

Read more: 3-month unemployment extension fails in Senate

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nevada) said the extension will be brought up for another vote soon and warned Republicans that voters will hold them accountable for blocking the critical aid to unemployed workers who have exhausted their state’s 26-week benefit.

“When 1.7 million struggling Americans fall short on the rent, skip meals to save cash or turn down the thermostat on freezing days, they will know who to blame,” said Reid. “We only need one more Republican to step up and do the right thing. Democrats will not stop pushing to restore emergency unemployment insurance. And in the weeks to come we will vote again on this important issue. In the meantime, I hope my colleagues across the aisle will think long and hard about their unsustainable position on this issue – a position that hurts middle-class families.”

Reid said that Democrats have already agreed to many of the Republicans’ demands in the latest version of S. 1845. Those compromises included:

  • voting on a short-term three-month extension instead of the usual one-year extension;
  • paying for the extension with “pension smoothing”, although traditionally unemployment compensation is considered an emergency spending that does not require offsets;
  • and incorporating a provision proposed by Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Oklahoma) to prohibit millionaires from receiving federal unemployment insurance benefits.

Read more: Transcript: Floor speech by Sen. Jack Reed on extending emergency unemployment compensation – Feb. 6, 2014

On the day of the vote, Sen. Jack Reed (D-Rhode Island), who sponsored S. 1845, explained that Democrats agreed to the compromises due to the urgency of restoring the benefits.

“Since Dec. 28th, people have lost their benefits. They went off a cliff,” said Reed. “It’s been 40 days since unemployment insurance benefits expired…for million of Americans. That’s 40 days too long for those who are downsized in the recession and now find their UI benefits being downsized again by Congress, downsized to practically zero.”

Reed said Congress must act quickly the short-term extension because much of benefits approved at this point would go towards retroactive payments.

“I will point out it is February. This extension will go forward until March. We’re reaching the point, ironically, where we might have more retroactive payments than prospective payments,” he said.

Further delays in passing the extension would just exacerbate the problem.

“Every week, 60,000 more Americans will lose their benefits. It’s up to 1.7 million Americans now. It will be several million before this year has run out,” said Reed, who cited a recent Congressional Budget Office analysis that projected a loss of 200,000 jobs due to decreased consumer demand if unemployment compensation is not extended this year.

“We can’t turn out backs on the 1.7 million Americans,” said Reed. “We’ve got to help them.


Learn More:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.