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Posts in "Unemployment insurance"
June 9, 2014
Rep. Sander M. Levin isn’t giving up on an unemployment extension.
Over the past 24 hours, the Michigan Democrat and ranking member of the House Ways and Means Committee — and one of the loudest voices calling for GOP leadership to act — announced two more ways he’ll try to force the issue and revive emergency unemployment benefits in the weeks ahead.
June 6, 2014
Majority Leader Eric Cantor laid out a busy legislative agenda for the remainder of June in a memo to House Republicans sent Friday, scheduling floor time to address issues at the Department of Veterans Affairs, three appropriations bills, three tax extender bills, and legislation to make gas and other energy prices cheaper. Notably absent from the agenda: any mention of immigration, an unemployment extension or the expiring Export-Import Bank.
First up as the House returns for its “summer stretch into the swampy heat of Washington, D.C.,” the Virginia Republican said the House will consider three tax extender bills next week. One bill (HR 4457) would make the 2013 small-business expensing levels permanent. Another (HR 4453) would reduce the built-in gains tax holding period to five years from its current 10. The third bill (HR 4454) would make certain charitable giving rules permanent.
May 9, 2014
Updated 3:25 p.m. | An Indiana man has been arrested by the FBI for allegedly threatening to kill Speaker John A. Boehner over his refusal to pass an unemployment extension, according to court filings.
Brandon J. Thompson, 32, of New Castle, Ind., faces federal charges for allegedly making email and telephone threats to an elected official, according to a news release. FBI agents arrested Thompson at his home Thursday night, where he admitted to the charges, according to a criminal complaint. He faced a U.S. magistrate judge on Friday morning. Full story
May 7, 2014
Democrats brought seven unemployed people to the Capitol steps Tuesday to tell their stories in a deeply emotional — and deeply political — news conference designed to paint Republicans as heartless for not allowing a vote on an extension of emergency unemployment insurance benefits.
The people hosted by the Democrats — hailing from Baltimore to Lorraine, Ohio — one-by-one told their story about losing their jobs and about applying for work hundreds of times, only to not hear back. They described watching their unemployment benefits, benefits they need to pay their mortgages and make ends meet, disappear.
“You have no idea how soul crushing it is to have your daughter tell you she’s a burden,” one unemployed man, Kevin McCarthy of Boonsboro, Md., said from the lectern in tears.
May 6, 2014
Updated, 1:25 p.m. | A planned Democratic hearing on an unemployment benefits extension was quickly transformed into a news conference Tuesday, with Democrats blaming Republicans for the stalled legislation and a spat erupting over meeting space.
Democrats changed their plans to hold a Democratic Steering and Policy hearing on the unemployment insurance issue Tuesday after Republicans balked, saying that Democrats were using the committee room improperly. Democrats accused Republicans of “kicking House Democrats out of a room” and attempting to “silence the voices of Americans” who are without unemployment benefits.
But according to documents obtained by CQ Roll Call, Education and the Workforce Committee ranking Democrat George Miller of California requested the committee room for the hearing, but called it a “members meeting” and suggested press would not be in attendance.
The documents to use the committee room showed that under subject matter, Democratic aides wrote: “Mr. Miller would like to hold a Members meeting.” The box asking if media would be present for the meeting was checked “no.”
May 1, 2014
House Minority Whip Steny H. Hoyer called Republicans to task on Thursday for bringing up unpaid-for tax extenders while allowing unemployment insurance to lapse, and suggested that all of it could be paid for if the House passed a comprehensive immigration overhaul.
In his weekly colloquy, the Maryland Democrat told Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., that it is not right for Republicans to demand that certain policies be offset — such as a “doc fix” and unemployment insurance — while the House plans to take up a $155 billion permanent research and development tax credit that is not paid for.
“We are going to make a decision, apparently, not to pay for something that we know is going to increase the deficit. So the analogy when we want things paid for is not always followed,” Hoyer said. “For instance, unemployment insurance, almost invariably not paid for. … We have a bipartisan, paid-for unemployment insurance bill that the Senate passed … that we can’t get to the floor. It’s paid for and helps 2.5 million people who are falling through the cracks. Yet we bring a bill to the floor that has a $155 billion cost, don’t pay for it and the unemployed 2.5 million are ignored.”
Cantor shot back that when Democrats were in power, they also extended the R&D tax credit without paying for it. He said Republicans believe that easing taxes would do more to stimulate the economy than handing out benefits. Full story
April 29, 2014
Updated 6:20 p.m. | Speaker John A. Boehner talked to the leading Republican pushing for an unemployment insurance extension, telling Sen. Dean Heller of Nevada on Tuesday that he won’t budge from demands for add-ons that would create jobs before he will put the measure on the House floor.
“The Speaker spoke by telephone with Sen. Heller today, and told him the same thing he has told the White House since before Christmas: we’re willing to look at a plan that is paid-for and includes something to help create jobs,” said Boehner spokesman Michael Steel in a statement. “Unfortunately, Senator Reid ruled out adding jobs provisions.”
The Ohio Republican has been consistent since December in demanding some concession from Democrats and the White House in return for an extension of emergency unemployment benefits — although without naming what, exactly, would be enough for him to bring a bill to the floor for a vote. Full story
During the Congressional Black Caucus’ special order hour on the House floor Monday night, Rep. Charles B. Rangel hammered the tea party not only for embracing the Confederate flag, but also for hating President Barack Obama “as much as their [Dixiecrat] predecessors probably hated Abe Lincoln.”
“[In] some parts of the United States of America they don’t believe that the Union won. The reason I come to that conclusion is that … I have never seen so many Confederate flags that represent groups that are proud of the fact that they call themselves the Tea Party,” the New York Democrat said during his 10-minute floor speech, referring to an event he attended with President Ulysses S. Grant’s great-great-grandson. “They’re from that part of the country that the states owned slaves.”
Rangel, the second most senior member of the Congressional Black Caucus, has pushed the White House to do more to combat poverty and inequality. The Senate recently passed an extension of unemployment benefits and there are new signs the House may take up legislation on an immigration overhaul.
April 26, 2014
President Barack Obama continues to keep up the drumbeat for an unemployment extension and a minimum wage hike, but neither issue appears any closer to a reality in Congress.
The president is taking his case to the airwaves and social media, using his advocacy arm, Organizing for Action, to try and pressure the GOP. Full story
April 21, 2014
Updated 4:40 p.m. | The White House and Labor Secretary Thomas E. Perez continue to press the House to pass an unemployment benefits extension — but so far there’s no word of a new offer to sweeten the pot for Speaker John A. Boehner, R-Ohio.
“We continue to press Congress to take action to restore those benefits,” White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said Monday. “Extending them would be, of course, hugely impactful to the families who receive them directly, but also of great benefit to the economy, and Congress ought to take action.”
Carney said he didn’t have an update on what the White House might be willing to offer Boehner. Full story
April 17, 2014
Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi on Thursday called House Republicans’ refusal to allow a vote on extending unemployment benefits “unconscionable” and “immoral.”
In a letter thanking Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval, a Republican, and Rhode Island Gov. Lincoln Chafee, a Democrat, for their support on the issue, Pelosi, D-Calif., urged the House to take action on a bill that passed the Senate last week.
“It is unconscionable that the House has not acted to renew emergency unemployment insurance,” she wrote. “Never before has Congress allowed emergency unemployment insurance to expire while long-term unemployment rates have remained so high.”
April 15, 2014
Updated April 16 9:50 a.m. | The governors of the two states with the highest unemployment rates — including a Republican — are urging Speaker John A. Boehner of Ohio to take up the Senate’s unemployment extension bill.
Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval, a Republican, and Rhode Island Gov. Lincoln Chafee, a Democrat, wrote to Boehner and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi. D-Calif., asking that the House take up the Senate-passed bill.
“As you know, long-term unemployment remains unacceptably high despite the fact that our economy has been recovering from the worst recession in generations. When our country has experienced similar rates of long-term unemployment in the past, Congress has consistently acted in a bipartisan fashion to extend emergency unemployment benefits,” the governors wrote.
April 10, 2014
Updated 2:20 p.m. | Speaker John A. Boehner said Thursday it’s up to the White House to make a new proposal before he’ll consider an unemployment benefits extension, as the House left town for two weeks without acting on a bipartisan Senate bill.
The Senate’s passage of an unemployment benefits extension earlier this week doesn’t change the House’s stand on the issue, the Ohio Republican said Thursday morning.
Boehner said he had made it clear to the president in December that an unemployment insurance extension would “have to be paid for and would have to include things that would help get our economy moving.”
“They have not put forward anything with regard to how we would create more jobs,” Boehner said. “And so the ball’s still in their court.” Full story
April 9, 2014
A Wednesday afternoon blog post by Ways and Means Republicans suggests that blocking an unemployment benefits extension may have boosted the economy.
“What Happened Since Extended Unemployment Benefits Ended?” the post asks. “More Jobs and Less Long-Term Unemployment, for Starters.”
The post said the emergency unemployment compensation program assisted 24 million people over 5.5 years at a cost of more than $260 billion.
“Despite Democrat claims that spending on unemployment benefits ‘creates jobs faster than almost any initiative you can name,’ all this record-setting benefit spending has bought in recent years is the slowest jobs recovery on record,” the post said. Full story
April 7, 2014
The Senate’s vote late Monday to pass an unemployment extension doesn’t mean the more than 2 million people who have lost their benefits can rest easy — the House isn’t likely to touch the issue until the end of the month, if at all.
While a band of House moderates have written to leaders asking them to consider the issue promptly — either with the Senate’s bill or an alternative — Speaker John A. Boehner has been clear that the Senate measure fails to meet his tests of creating jobs and being fiscally responsible. The Ohio Republican hasn’t put forward an alternative of his own.
The real question for House Republicans seems to be this — is there something they can get out of the White House and congressional Democrats in return for releasing benefits to the unemployed? Full story