Unemployment benefit extension fails in the House

Unemployment benefit extension fails in the House
By Vicki Needham – 11/18/10 04:54 PM ET
As expected, House Republicans blocked passage on Thursday of a three-month extension of emergency unemployment benefits before leaving town for the Thanksgiving recess.

The House voted 258-154 — with 21 Republicans supporting the measure and 11 Democrats opposing — against extending the unemployment checks through Feb. 28 for those who have exhausted their 26 weeks of state benefits.

Although the measure received a majority of the vote, it needed the support of two-thirds to pass. The vote’s failure today probably means the current six-month extension will expire Nov. 30 with the unemployment rate at 9.6 percent.

House Ways and Means Chairman Sander Levin (D-Mich.) and Rep. Jim McDermott (D-Wash.), chairman of the Subcommittee on Income Security and Family Support, introduced the three-month bill on Wednesday night in an effort to get members on the record before leaving town for the weeklong Thanksgiving recess.

“I don’t see how Republicans can go home for Thanksgiving knowing that, because they blocked this bill, hundreds of thousands of people may not have a turkey on their table,” Levin said in a statement.

There is growing support among Democrats to push for a yearlong extension, especially considering that the unemployment rate is expected to remain elevated through 2011.

“This vote was a stark test of our priorities, and House Republicans showed that their priorities are decidedly in the wrong place for middle-class families,” House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) said in a statement.

McDermott said his plan was to introduce a one-year extension, which is backed by the White House, but was asked by his leadership to draw up the three-month bill.

“I put out one-year extensions a couple of times starting last year to get us way past the election,” McDermott said. “I never succeeded because the Senate Republicans would never go more than one, or two or three months. So this time I said, well, no sense in playing around with it, let’s do three months and let them say no to that.”

The Senate isn’t likely to take up a stand-alone measure on the benefits and will probably wrap them into a larger tax-extenders package that would include the Bush-era tax cuts.

With lawmakers still working out whether to extend all or a part of the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts, McDermott said he’ll make a case when Congress returns that Republicans are willing to spend $700 billion on tax cuts for those in the highest tax brackets versus about an estimated $65 billion for the unemployed.

The benefits, historically, have been extended without being paid for when the unemployment rate is high.

Republicans have voiced concern over the measure not being offset and adding to the deficit. Several have suggested tapping into the last batch of unused stimulus funds, about $13 billion. The measure was held up in by Senate Republicans for nearly two months during summer over deficit concerns, as millions lost their benefits over deficit

McDermott argued the benefits don’t add to the long-term structural debt and are the best way to stimulate the economy as it continues to recover from the recession.

Jobless benefits have pumped nearly $7 billion into the economy every month this year, said Christine Owens, executive director of NELP.

A new report released Thursday by the Joint Economic Committee found that prematurely ending the federal unemployment insurance benefits program would drain the economy of “$80 billion in purchasing power and result in the loss of over one million jobs over the next year.”

For all their talk, McDermott said Republicans don’t really want to help the economy because it would aid Democrats in 2012.

“They’ve got to keep the economy screwed up until they get past the election,” he said.

Comments (9)

‘Conservative Economics’ at its best: Let them eat cake!
BY T.H.E.BOOJUM on 11/18/2010 at 17:33
Of course this will cause the holiday sales to be down..and then the Republicans can blame the Dems for the poor economy and then swoop into office in January with their grand new plan…are those who voted against this prepared to see the sad faces of all the disappointed and hungry children this holiday season…oh and by the way make sure the check to Israel gets out on time will ya? Wouldn’t want to see sad children’s faces during Hannaka in the Middle East…go figure.

BY ANN on 11/18/2010 at 17:44
I do not understand how McDermott has the audacity to blame just the Republicans when 11 of his own buddies voted against the bill. Sure the Republicans did nor help – we really did not expect them to really care about strugglingunemp loyed Americans but the shame goes to the Democrats that can not even unite on such crucial issue. I applaud all Republicans who supported the bill. They are showing their humanity while others are totally apathetic to the struggles of the American people.

As for our President, I bet that he is just going to make just another pretty speech and give us plenty of lip service as usual. SHAME ON ALL OF YOU IN DC. GOD IS WATCHING. AND, WE WILL NEVER FORGET. 2012 IS JUST AROUND THE CORNER. NONE OF YOU WILL BE RE-ELECTED NOT EVEN OBAMA. HE CAN GO BACK TO HIS COMMUNITY ORGANIZING ACTIVITIES TO HELP THE MILLIONS OF THOSE UNEMPLOYED THAT HE HAS FAILED TO DO ANYTHING TO HELP THEM.
HAVE A LOVELY HOLIDAY MR. PRESIDENT.

BY ANNA on 11/18/2010 at 17:45
Better to let them choke on pumpkin…see you are sensoring again…as expected

BY CAROYLN on 11/18/2010 at 17:58
Yes,some people need the unemployment. but I know alot of people who collect unemployment who are able to work,and there are jobs out there.just have to knock on some doors. why should they bother when they can sit at home and make more then they would working.

BY VIC on 11/18/2010 at 18:20
Can’t spend 30 billion to help folks in need yet it is expected we spend 678 billion on top 2%.

I bet you don’t tip either Vic since that is enabling.

BY SAM on 11/18/2010 at 19:14
ARE YOU KIDDING ME!!!! I hope everyone that voted these idiots in are happy. Although I have to say I’m really disappointed in the Democrats that voted NO. All I can say is I hope all of the “No” Voters have a wonderful holiday and don’t forget when you are giving thanks to think about all the people you could’ve helped. YOU SHOULD ALL BE ASHAMED OF YOURSELVES!!!

BY TOM on 11/18/2010 at 22:04
vic how do you figure the unemployed make more on unemployment than they would working.and no one is saying there are no jobs out there, there just simply isn’t enough to make a dent in unemployment.2 million are getting ready to lose their benefits and that doesn’t count the millions that already have.how many jobs are you trying to say are out there?

BY TRYING on 11/19/2010 at 04:09
ok i just have one thing to say all you people that voted for your Republicans i hope u are happy and if our unemployment is left up to the Republicans u want get no more checks because they are not hurting and their houses are paid for and cars to ,they have food on the table ever night ,not like me worked all my life and the first time i am layed off .i just get cut off ,i am 61 years old and no one wants to give me the time of day ,and i worked 20 years at one place and it sut down i was a tech ,so Republicans suck suck??? and the people that voted for them to???

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