Tuesday, the Senate voted to reinstate the unemployment benefits for 1.3 million Americans which expired on December 28; however, its fate in the House is uncertain. It was almost certain that all 54 Democrats would vote to reinstate unemployment benefits, but they needed to pull a few right-wingers to the left side of the aisle.
Even though this bill was created in a bipartisan manner with Senators Jack Reed (D-RI) and Dean Heller (R-NV), CBS News reports that just six Senate Republicans joined the unanimous Democratic side vote to pass through the reinstatement with a 60 vote majority. Along with the Republican co-sponsor of the bill, the five Republicans that voted with the Democratic majority were Kelly Ayotte (R-NH), Susan Collins (R-ME), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Rob Portman (R-OH), and Dan Coats (R-IN). CBS News also reports that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) is urging Republicans to get on board with his party and help the American people stating that, “We shouldn’t turn our backs on them.”
Though, with Senator Reid’s majority, it seems that Democrats are turning their backs on trying to find the money.
Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH) says the House is unwilling to consider the extension unless it is fully funded by cuts to other programs. As reported in The Washington Times, Boehner has been in negotiation with the Obama Administration, stating that, “another extension of emergency unemployment benefits should not only be paid for but include something to help put people back to work.” Many conservatives have proposed plans to levy the benefits with job training programs and even relocation stipends. Although this is a great plan, the job market in this stagnant economy recovery is just as uncertain as the fate of unemployment benefits.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has stated that he will be in favor of extending unemployment benefits if Congress finds a way to pay for it. The Washington Times reports that McConnell suggested a one year delay of the Obamacare individual mandate to pay for the extension. During an interview on Special Report with Bret Baier, Fox News contributor Steven Hayes said that “Republicans have been a little too wimpy,” in the argument over the extension of unemployment benefits. He also added, “Republicans aren’t making a moral case about how often unemployment insurance that goes on forever leads to more unemployment.”
According to Forbes, Charles Krauthammer explained that Republicans need to accept and pass the three-month extension of unemployment benefits. By doing this, Americans who depend upon these benefits to put food on the table will again see the light at the end of the tunnel. As well, it will look favorable for one of the lowest-rated Congresses in history. Many conservative economists come to the conclusion that long-term unemployment benefits package offers an alternative to working. This has been shown to be true in some Western European countries such as France. However, it is very unlikely that it will happen here in America. While the extension of unemployment benefits is uncertain in the near future, one thing that is certain is that the American people will be in for another political battle.
Editoria By Alex Lemieux