• Forecast
  • News Tip
  • Categories
Temperature Precipitation
Estimated read time
3m 50s

Unemployment benefit extension clears Senate hurdle

By Rebecca Kaplan / CBS News 7:26 AM January 7, 2014

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said that “many on my side” would be happy to extend the benefits so long as they didn’t increase the deficit

A bipartisan measure to extend the Emergency Unemployment Compensation (EUC) program for three months cleared a procedural vote in the Senate Tuesday morning, despite concern from Republicans who say they would only consider the measure if it were offset by other spending cuts or revenue.

Though the bill was co-sponsored by Sens. Jack Reed, D-R.I., and Dean Heller, R-Nev., just five of Heller’s colleagues joined him in voting to begin debate on the three-month extension of the benefits that would have cost the government $6.5 billion. The EUC program, which was expanded by Congress in 2008 to provide extra income to the long-term unemployed, expired on Dec. 28. Immediately, 1.3 million Americans lost their benefits, and 1.9 million more will lose them in the next six months without a legislative fix.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., asked Republicans to back Heller, their colleague, ahead of the vote. He noted –as administration officials have over the last several days – that Democrats helped extend unemployment benefits during President George W. Bush’s term even when unemployment was much lower.

“These families live in red states, blue states, are Republicans, Democrats, Independents. We shouldn’t turn our backs on them,” Reid said. “In the past we’ve worked together on this. Did we complain when President Bush came to us? Unemployment was nowhere where it is now. There were not long-term unemployed. And we just automatically together extended those benefits. Not today. We’re not doing it because we can’t get the Republicans to help us.”

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said that “many on my side” would be happy to extend the benefits so long as they didn’t increase the deficit. He countered with a proposal to Reid that Republicans be allowed to offer an amendment that would pay for the benefits by deferring the Affordable Care Act’s insurance mandate for a year, which the Congressional Budget Office has said could save $35 billion over the course of a year by cutting federal Medicaid spending and delaying new tax credits to help people buy insurance.

That, of course, is a nonstarter with Democrats.

Even as the administration has continued to publicly push for an extension of the benefits without any offsets, Republican opposition grew throughout the day Monday. Several lawmakers, including Sens. Mark Kirk, R-Ill., and Bob Corker, R-Tenn., came out against the measure on Monday because it was not paid for.

Outside conservative groups piled on as well, urging lawmakers to vote “no” and promising to include the vote in a legislative scorecard.

“Taxpayers not cannot afford tens of billions in new spending (a full one-year extension would cost upwards of $25 billion), and even if lawmakers attempt to offset this new spending with real cuts elsewhere, they would still be throwing taxpayer money at an ineffective and wasteful program,” Heritage Action, one such group, said in a press release announcing their opposition.

They echoed a position taken by other lawmakers, which is that benefits for the long-term unemployed can have an adverse effect.

“I think it’s wrong to borrow money from China or simply to print up money for it. But I’m not against having unemployment insurance. I do think, though, that the longer you have it, that it provides some disincentive to work, and that there are many studies that indicate this,” said Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., on ABC’s “This Week” Sunday.

The five Republicans who joined Heller in voting to begin debate on the Reed-Heller bill were Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire, Dan Coats of Indiana, Susan Collins of Maine, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Rob Portman of Ohio.

President Obama will continue a public show of support for an extension in a speech Tuesday, where he will be accompanied by Americans who have lost their benefits.

Speaking to reporters Monday ahead of the vote, Gene Sperling, the director of the National Economic Council, urged lawmakers to pass the legislation even though it is not paid for.

“We have just an urgent situation right now.  As I said, today is the day. People have been cut off, but today is the day they find the check not there.  The President believes that we should pass this right away with no strings attached,” he said in response to a question from CBS News White House Correspondent Major Garrett about whether the administration would consider negotiating some sort of an offset.

Latest Stories

  • News

    Motorcyclist killed in crash on Minnesota Drive

    by KTVA CBS 11 News on Jun 25, 21:09

    Last updated at 10:09 p.m. on Saturday, June 25 Anchorage police say a motorcyclist is dead after a crash on Minnesota Drive near W. 40th Avenue. Police closed all southbound lanes of Minnesota Drive at the scene of the crash, which was reported just after 8 p.m. Just after 10 p.m., police reopened a single […]

  • Sports

    More than 50 mushers already signed up for Iditarod 2017

    by KTVA CBS 11 News on Jun 25, 20:10

    The Iditarod Trail Committee says more than 50 mushers from Alaska and around the world have already signed up for the 2017 Iditarod Sled Dog Race. Saturday was the first official entry day. Of the 52 entries, 12 of them are rookies to the Last Great Race, and 10 teams are from other nations, including […]

  • News

    U.S. Coast Guard stationed in Kotzebue for summer

    by Margaret DeMaioribus / KNOM on Jun 25, 16:46

    The U.S. Coast Guard is setting up for activities in Kotzebue this summer and summers to come. The Coast Guard signed a five-year lease with the Alaska Army National Guard facility in Kotzebue. It’s the first long-term lease for the Coast Guard above the Arctic Circle and will serve as a station for Arctic operations. U.S. […]

  • News

    Police extend presence at Alaska PrideFest following altercation downtown

    by KTVA CBS 11 News on Jun 25, 16:40

    Alaskans have been celebrating the 2016 Alaska PrideFest in Anchorage for a week now, but the festivities were briefly interrupted Saturday by an altercation between festivalgoers and a group of protestors. The protestors, alleging to be with Westboro Baptist Church, were congregated near the intersection of Ninth Avenue and F Street with a megaphone and […]

  • News

    APD: 2 brothers disappear from their Anchorage home

    by KTVA CBS 11 News on Jun 25, 15:58

    The Anchorage Police Department is asking for the public’s help in finding a pair of missing brothers. In a statement Saturday, police said 12-year-old James Kochergin and his 13-year-old brother Samuel Kochergin were last seen at their home near the intersection of Lore Road and Lake Otis Parkway. According to APD spokeswoman Jennifer Castro, the […]

  • Lifestyle

    Inside U.S. scientists’ groundbreaking test to grow potatoes on Mars

    by CBS News on Jun 25, 12:35

    NASA and private companies are all vying to send astronauts to Mars, but when they get there, they’ll all face the same problem — growing food. So U.S. scientists have headed to the deserts of South America to see if they can cook up a solution. Potatoes have played a starring role in one recent Hollywood […]

  • Crime

    Police search for 2 inmates missing from halfway houses

    by KTVA CBS 11 News on Jun 25, 12:26

    The Anchorage Police Department says two inmates walked away from two different halfway houses on Friday. Byron Chinuhuk, 26, allegedly left the Glenwood Center on D Street around 4:30 p.m. He has prior convictions of assault, according to online court records. Chinuhuk was last seen wearing a black t-shirt, light blue jeans and a gray […]

  • News

    Body of 2-year-old boy found after search near Bathing Beauty Pond

    by KTVA CBS 11 News on Jun 25, 11:05

    The search for a 2-year-old boy missing at the Bathing Beauty Pond ended when search teams found him unresponsive in the water, according to an Alaska State Trooper dispatch. Troopers say the toddler was reported missing at 1:33 p.m. Friday after he “apparently wandered down a heavily wooded path” near the pond off the Richardson […]