Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
February 13, 2016

Jobless Benefits Split House GOP, Democrats

Levin gave an impromptu press conference on jobless benefits in the House press gallery Tuesday. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Levin gave an impromptu press conference on jobless benefits in the Senate press gallery Tuesday. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

House Ways and Means ranking Democrat Sander M. Levin wants an unemployment insurance extension, doesn’t want to pay for it, and wants it now.

With a handful of Senate Republicans voting with Democrats on Tuesday to advance legislation restoring lapsed unemployment insurance for 1.3 million Americans, Levin called on Speaker John A. Boehner to pass a temporary extension now and work out how to pay for it later.

“There is a present emergency,” Levin said during an impromptu press conference in the Senate press gallery. “This is not something theoretical.”

Levin said he wanted the House to pass the bill currently under consideration in the Senate, which would extend the expired unemployment insurance for three months without an offset, and then work toward a larger, longer-term solution that could include an offset.

“Historically,” the Michigan Democrat said, “unemployment insurance has not been offset.” He noted that there had been “a few exceptions” — $55 billion of the $265 billion price tag has been offset since the program came into existence in 2008 — but Levin said this was an emergency, and “emergencies, basically, have not been offset in this institution.”

But House Republicans don’t appear willing to consider an unemployment insurance extension without paying for it — and they want a broader plan to address unemployment.

On Tuesday, Boehner reaffirmed his position.

“One month ago,” the Ohio Republican said in a statement, “I personally told the White House that another extension of temporary emergency unemployment benefits should not only be paid for but include something to help put people back to work. To date, the president has offered no such plan.”

Boehner said if President Barack Obama did offer a plan with an offset, he’d be “happy to discuss it.”

But Levin called that reasoning “not satisfactory” and “an excuse or a reason for inaction.”

“I don’t think we should play ping pong with the lives and the lifelines of the unemployed of this country,” Levin said. “So I don’t think we should say it’s somebody else’s obligation. I don’t think it should be offset. If the speaker thinks so, let him propose it, which he hasn’t.”

“Why should anyone shift the responsibility?” Levin asked.

Levin said Republicans and Democrats had been “at loggerheads” regarding these sorts of economic issues, and a three-month extension would allow both sides to sit down and figure out a course ahead.

“The speaker’s in the same position as I am and every House member,” Levin said. “He should not throw the ball to anybody else. Ohio is suffering like every other state in terms of the number of people unemployed looking for work. And so, it isn’t up to the White House; it’s up to the speaker, I think, to look into those lives of the people of his state and the country who are desperately looking for work.”

However, some House and Senate Democrats have floated the notion of using a pending farm bill conference report — which would cut billions from the deficit — as a way to offset the cost of an unemployment benefits extension.

  • popsbent

    Common answer from the Dems, spend don’t worry about paying for it. If he wants it that bad then remove funding from a project in his district/state to pay for it.

  • Biff Wellington

    It seems Dems believe that we somehow receive a dollar-fifty for every dollar we hand out? by this ridiculous concept, not only is it “paid for,” but it will turn a profit! good Lord, I would love to be this idiot’s accountant…

  • The truth is that …

    If today’s liberals will callously murder the unborn, who won’t they attack?

  • J Wolfe

    If today’s progressives (from both parties) will callously steal benefits earned by our wounded veterans and give them to illegal aliens…………think they won’t come after you?

  • Junior Liles

    Any republican That does Not Support the Passing of the Unemployment Benefit Bill Is Against The American People who is Temporary (OUT) of Work due to some reason of (NO) fault of their (OWN)…That Republican is (AGAINST) American People who is POOR & Struggling to Make (ENDS) Meet.I Am a Person Who is Working in CONSTRUCTION,However Due to (cold) & (ICY) Conditions Construction work Has came to a (STAND STILL) …I,AM (NOT) (LAZY) i had much rather WORK than DRAW your BENEFITS.I CAN MAKE more of This $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$….Than i can Survive on Unemployment Benefits.Make No Mistake about it,For Now I can use the Unemployment Benefits (NOW) to be Able to Buy (FOOD) Pay a (ELECTRIC) Bill.I HAD TO GO TO MY HOME TOWN HELP CENTER CCC or CLEBURNE COUNTY CARES Who is a NON PROFIT ORGANIZATION who helps People with UTILITY BILLS,I HAD TO GO TO THEM on the 01/08/2014 Because my PROPANE TANK WAS LOW ON HEATING FUEL.I AM VERY DISAPPOINTED I THE STUPID DECISIONS & EXCUSES The REPUBLICANS has came up with to REJECT the Help SO!! Many American PEOPLE NEED,IN (NOT) PASSING the UNEMPLOYMENT BENEFITS….I WILL (NEVER) (AGAIN) VOTE ON A REPUBLICAN BALLOT…I,AM GOING OVER TO THE DEMOCRAT Party From this DAY FORWARD…I Use to Be a REPUBLICAN However after the ARGUING TODAY AND VOTING AGAINST The People Who is Counting on your Help For (FOOD) (MEDICATION) (AUTO FUEL) (UTILITY BILLS) ETC ETC … I am No Longer a Republican…THE REPUBLICAN PARTY MAKES NO (SENSE)

  • Lance Lasley


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