Renewing unemployment benefits stalls in Senate

A compromise appears unlikely before next week's Senate recess.

Senator John Barrasso (R-WY) (L-R), Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), Senator John Thune (R-SD) and Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) speak to reporters after their weekly Republican caucus lunch meeting at the Capitol in Washington. (REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst)

Senator John Barrasso (R-WY) (L-R), Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), Senator John Thune (R-SD) and Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) speak to reporters after their weekly Republican caucus lunch meeting at the Capitol in Washington.
(REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst)

Efforts to renew emergency federal jobless benefits for 1.5 million Americans stalled in the Senate on Tuesday when Democrats and Republicans rejected each other’s proposals.

Both sides vowed to keep looking for a compromise, but it appeared unlikely they would find one before next week’s Senate recess.

“It is extremely important that we act, and today we failed to act,” said Democratic Senator Jack Reed of Rhode Island.

“It is not over,” said Republican Senator Rob Portman of Ohio. “We are not going to give up.”

If and when the Democratic-led Senate passes a bill to extend benefits, the measure would have to be approved by the Republican-led House of Representatives before it could go to President Barack Obama to sign into law.

Obama has been pushing Congress to renew the benefits for the long-term unemployed – people who have been out of work for at least six months. Their benefits expired on December 28.

“It’s very disappointing that Republicans in the Senate chose to block action tonight on a compromise solution to extend emergency unemployment insurance for 1.3 million Americans who have been actively looking for a job and have now had this vital lifeline cut off,” the White House said in a statement.

“We will continue to work with both sides to find a solution because the cost of inaction is simply too high,” the White House added.

Since December 28, the number of long-term unemployed has risen to 1.4 million from 1.3 million. Unless funding for the federal program that provided the benefits is restored, the number of jobless Americans losing benefits is expected to increase by 72,000 a week.

Republicans and Democrats have accused each other of being more interested in jockeying for political position than actually extending jobless benefits.

On Tuesday, Democrats rejected as inadequate a Republican proposal to renew benefits for three months at a cost of about $6.5 billion, which would have been offset by cuts elsewhere.

Republicans rejected as excessive a Democratic proposal to extend benefits until the mid-November at a cost of $18 billion, which would also have been offset by other spending cuts.

Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid offered to allow Republican amendments on Tuesday, but Republicans rejected the terms requiring that amendments get at least 60 votes in the 100-member chamber to pass.

Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell called the Reid offer “ridiculous.”

An aide to McConnell complained that under the Reid plan, Democrats would be allowed to revamp the entire bill and push it through the Senate with a simple majority.

Democrats control the Senate, 55-45.

Reid brushed off the criticism and said the Senate needed to step up and help the jobless.

“We need to remember the urgency of this matter,” Reid said. “There are lot of people who are desperate.”
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16 Responses to "Renewing unemployment benefits stalls in Senate"

  1. Eileen  January 16, 2014 at 8:17 pm

    Please Help the many unemployed. Don’t just forget about them like we did in the 80′s. I know how it felt back then. It set my family back the rest of our working years and in our retirement years as well.

  2. Julie simmons  January 19, 2014 at 11:11 am

    I am a single mom who lost my job and was on unemployment and have been desperatly searching for a job and now without any money coming in I dont even have the gas to search my family is sinking fast congress needs to think of situations like this and reach a compromise already.

    • Eileen D.  January 19, 2014 at 8:12 pm

      You are so right….My daughter is in the same boat you are. Good Luck to you Julie.

  3. Deborah Langham  January 19, 2014 at 12:26 pm

    These big wigs in Congress does not care about the people on unemployment benefits, they are getting paid their 6 figure salaries, they have never had to be without a job or worry about where their next meal will come from, so why should it concern them how long it should take them to make a decison on whether or not to extend this benefit to the American people, they could care less.

  4. steve deacon  January 19, 2014 at 12:28 pm

    The republican and democrats are all controlled by the private off shore banks and are guilty of treason. and.crimes against. humanity.arrest them all.

  5. Coni  January 19, 2014 at 1:34 pm

    They really don’t seem to truly understand the dire circumstances these people are facing. This is not a joke!! We depend on that money to survive. Maybe they should take a pay cut to offset the 6.5 billion! They don’t seem to have a care about how we will put food on our tables. I’m sure all of their bills are paid and the yacht insurance is up to date.

    • Julie  January 21, 2014 at 2:59 pm

      Not to mention the raise they gave themselves just a few weeks ago!

  6. JessJack  January 19, 2014 at 6:55 pm

    I just don’t understand why the legislature won’t agree to the extension with the condition that it be paid for by decreasing spending elsewhere in the budget. What’s wrong with that? It seems fair to me.

  7. steve  January 19, 2014 at 9:36 pm

    Ive been laid off for over a year now with no luck of a new job..now that we lost our only money coming in my two kids,wife and i will be homeless soon. We have already lost savings vehicals and everything. Thanks congress…i hate how this goverment treats thepoor. My family will not starve and i will do whatever i have to do to survive no matter what it is. The american dream is dead.

  8. woody188  January 20, 2014 at 7:13 am

    Why keep extending benefits without addressing the real issue?

    Until global labor arbitrage is addressed as the anti-free market practice that it is (see comparative versus absolute advantage), we will continue to sink further into the abyss.

  9. jim okeefe  January 20, 2014 at 9:36 pm

    The median net worth of the Senate in 2012 was $2,794,024 a %10.8 raise for the prior year. It continues in that fashion today. Most of their concerns are those companies and businesses that the millionaires club is invested in. You think they are really up on what’s happening with the the people of this country. I wonder how much bickering back and forth there is when a vote is taken on raising their salaries. How often is that but off until they come back for yet another “break”, a vacation by any other words. If an unemployment extension is not passed by yet is is unlikely it will be passed at all.

  10. peggy  January 21, 2014 at 12:18 pm

    They need to realize that it has been a month and people are going hungry and soon will be homeless so please pass this now quit delaying

  11. Edrin Allen  January 21, 2014 at 1:20 pm

    i am just a regular person that was on the emergency unemployment program that like millions of others around the world i have lost my last life line. throughout my unemployment i have been looking for a job everyday sometimes all day and nothing has came through for me and my family of six (two girls,twin boys,and my wife). I depended on this money to help my wife who only makes 7.50hr pay some bills which are now behind again do to this loss. I am not the type of person that wants handouts. I want to work but what can i do if no one is hireing. Renew the plan and help me and millions of other people around the world that want to work but cant find work. Not doing this could lead to a higher crime rate as some people with no income will resort to selling drugs,theft and all kind of things. This is something to think about. WE NEED OUR LIFE LINE

  12. shantell  January 22, 2014 at 4:55 pm

    Its a sad situation american is really messed up..its hard to GET A JOB I BEEN OUT WORK FOR 6 months and i recieve umemployment but its sad to see that our own country dont care ppl need food this is how ppl pay their bills i JUST PRAY THEY PASS THIS LAW ON JANUARY 27

    • peggy  January 24, 2014 at 1:55 pm

      There are jobs out but unfortunately for the long term unemployed and people over 50 the job market just isn’t there because employers can be picky and hire whomever they want instead of people who have worked thier whole life and now find themselves unemployed… They can’t come out and say your too old or you haven’t work in awhile so they chose to ignore us as if we dont exist … But it is even harder now with no money to find a job and soon we will join the ranks of the homeless and forgotten

  13. peggy  January 24, 2014 at 1:00 pm

    Can we please pass the unemployment extensions things are getting worse for those cut off it is our life line

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