WASHINGTON -- For the second year in a row, Congress must decide during the holiday season whether to renew federal jobless benefits for people out of work six months or longer. While Democrats have been making a huge fuss, with a press conference Wednesday featuring hundreds of unemployed workers, Republicans have been relatively quiet -- but that doesn't mean they're against reauthorizing the benefits.
Republican leaders in both Houses of Congress have expressed support for continuing the benefits, saying the holdup is just a matter of how the legislation is put together.
"We're going to be discussing between the House and Senate ways to deal with both continuation of the payroll tax reduction and unemployment insurance extension before the end of the year," Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said Tuesday. "And in the end, it will have to be worked out in a joint negotiation between a Democratic Senate and a Republican House."
If the benefits are not reauthorized, 1.8 million jobless will stop receiving checks over the course of January, according to worker advocacy group the National Employment Law Project. The federal benefits kick in for laid off workers who use up to six months of state-funded compensation without finding work. Congress routinely provides extensions during recessions and hasn't dropped extended benefits with the national unemployment rate above 7.2 percent.
Even Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), who suggested during a standoff on jobless benefits last summer that unemployed people blow the money on drugs, sounded sympathetic to jobseekers on Wednesday.
"Nobody really has a real quick answer. We're studying it, looking at it. We're clearly going to have to do something -- nobody wants to see people suffer," Hatch told reporters outside the Senate floor on Tuesday. "There's a huge underemployment rate as you know, of 16, 18 percent, somewhere in that area. People don't even want to look for jobs anymore. There oughta be some incentives to find jobs, to get to work. It's easier said than done. I think there's a general consensus that we need to help people."
They are willing to reauthorize benefits, but what do they want in exchange? They held ui benefits hostage last year until they got their tax cuts for the rich extended. I don't think they will give in so easy this year.
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Join date : 2011-02-21
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Well, for one I think they are listening to some extent to polling and to the economists. But I have to agree with you js, they want something and I don't see where killing 200,000 additional federal jobs is the answer with real unemployment being 16-17%. But that could be part of the game. Next month the UE rate climbs over 9% and it's "look what this President has done", so I don't know. In addition, the cuts would of course take place in all the social services agencies and not of course in the DOD.
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