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Battle to extend long-term unemployment simmers

John Boehner explains the importance of creating jobs.
John Boehner explains the importance of creating jobs.
Photo by Win McNamee

In this charged political climate rhetoric often doesn't match actions, but when it comes to House Speaker John Boehner his stand against extending unemployment benefits without a way to promote job growth hasn't budged. According to an April 29 article in the Las Vegas Sun, Republican Senator Dean Heller of Nevada has urged House Speaker Boehner to retroactively extend unemployment insurance benefits that expired at the end of the last year and to extend the program through the end of May. But while both men are Republicans it appears they've reached an impasse.

Bipartisan compromise

Sen. Heller played a key role in putting together a bipartisan compromise that would retroactively pay emergency unemployment benefits that expired back in December of 2013. Boehner has rejected that legislation but that should be no surprise.

"He [Heller] encouraged the Speaker to allow the unemployment insurance extension legislation to move forward in the House, making the case that this bill is not just important for Nevada, but for the entire country." -- Heller's communications director, Chandler Smith, via the Las Vegas Sun

Bipartisan bill lacks job-creation measures

Boehner has said all along that he will consider legislation that extends long-term unemployment benefits as long as it provides a way to pay for the benefits and a way to promote job growth. The current bipartisan bill drafted in the Senate does not include separate job-creation measures required for Boehner's proactive approach to helping the unemployed. While it does not have extensive support in the House, Heller has asked Boehner to bring the bill up for a vote in the House. Seven Republicans have also signed a letter that asks Boehner to bring the legislation to the floor for a vote.

Senate Republicans tried to include a "catch-all" amendment to the bill that addressed job growth that included things like approving the Keystone pipeline, eliminating the 30-hour a week rule in Obamacare, and reducing taxes on small businesses, but the amendment was dropped because Republican support was not strong enough in the Senate to overcome a potential filibuster.

Democrats in the house are filing a discharge petition which will force the House leadership to put forth their version of an unemployment benefits extension up for a vote. However, the House has had several bills such as the Solutions to Long-Term Unemployment Act offered in February of this year that have been given a prognosis of zero percent chance of being enacted. The situation leaves both sides saying they want to extend unemployment benefits but not agreeing on how to get the job done.

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