• 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

    House panel moves bill addressing municipal marijuana regs

    by Associated Press on Mar 27, 21:19

    A bill addressing how municipalities regulate marijuana businesses has moved out of a House committee. The House Judiciary Committee moved a new version of Rep. Cathy Tilton’s bill, which would help define a municipality’s role in regulating marijuana businesses, set a maximum household limit of 24 marijuana plants and add marijuana clubs to the list […]

  • News

    Young geography whizzes compete for state title

    by Shannon Ballard on Mar 27, 21:11

    Young geography whizzes in Alaska and across the county competed on Friday for a spot in the 27th annual National Geographic Bee. Fourth through eighth graders spent months studying, preparing to get the questions right and proved themselves as the top student in their school. The winner, seventh grader Ben Ng from Juneau’s Floyd Dryden […]

  • News

    House passes bill designating day to honor Alaska elders

    by KTVA CBS 11 News on Mar 27, 20:41

    The Alaska House of Representatives has passed a bill designating the winter solstice as a day of honor for elders all across the state. Representatives across the board voted to pass House Bill 142 Friday, with only three excluded votes. The bill’s aim is to “honor the positive effect of Alaska elders on the generations […]

  • Crime

    Pastor sentenced to 10 years in prison for child pornography

    by Dave Leval on Mar 27, 20:24

    Ronald Rathbun Sr has helped counsel inmates. The pastor will continue to do that, but as one of them. Rathbun will spend 10 years in prison, a sentence handed down to the 58-year-old Friday. He pleaded guilty to child pornography charges in December. Alaska State Troopers arrested Rathbun at his home in November 2013. They […]

  • News

    Bean’s Cafe clients pitch in for cleanup

    by Lauren Maxwell on Mar 27, 17:43

    The area around Bean’s Café and the Brother Francis Shelter is looking a lot brighter after clients picked up 420 pounds of garbage Friday morning. The clean-up included removing a few items left on Karluk Street where people have been camping on the sidewalk for months. Police said most of the campers had moved on […]

  • News

    Yup’ik spelling bee preserves language

    by Shannon Ballard on Mar 27, 17:23

    Anchorage students competed in a district wide Yup’ik spelling bee at Clark Middle School on Friday, a unique spelling contest that’s helping preserve an Alaskan native language. Yup’ik is becoming increasingly uncommon in urban areas, but some of the participants still speak it in their homes. The fourth annual event is designed to keep the language alive. […]

  • News

    Senator Sullivan opens new office in Fairbanks

    by KTVA CBS 11 News on Mar 27, 15:29

    Sen. Dan Sullivan announced the opening of a new office in Fairbanks Friday to act as a hub for Interior constituents to voice their concerns or comments. Leslie Hajdukovich was named as Sullivan’s Special Assistant for the Interior, and will be leading the new office. “I am excited to announce Leslie as the newest addition […]

  • News

    Anchorage police take mini horses into custody

    by KTVA CBS 11 News on Mar 27, 14:44

    Anchorage police officers wrangled two miniature horses Friday morning after they escaped their home. Around 5:40 a.m., police dispatch received a call that two ponies were grazing in a median near Northern Lights Boulevard and Boniface Parkway, said Anchorage Police Department spokeswoman Jennifer Castro. Within a minute of the first report, someone else called in […]