Unemployment Insurance: Will Boehner Let It Hit the Floor?

Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/gageskidmore/

Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/gageskidmore/

After jobless benefits ran out over three months ago, Democrats in Congress began the long back and forth process of seeking a renewal of unemployment insurance, with Republicans hesitant to take up any bill. Monday, the Senate voted with a fairly strong majority of 59 to 38 to pass a jobless bill. While its chances in the House continue to be doubtful, there are signs that at least some Republican supporters would like to push it through, as a small group have appealed to House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio). They wrote to Boehner to encourage the passage of the bill, or at least its hearing on the House floor.

As many Americans continue to struggle without benefits, we respectfully request that the House immediately consider this bill or a similar measure to restore unemployment benefits to struggling Americans,” read the letter, according to The Washington Post, signed by Representatives including Frank LoBiondo (R-N.J.), Jon Runyan (R-N.J.), Chris Smith (R-N.J.), Chris Bison (R-N.Y.), Michael Grimm (R-N.Y.), Peter King (R-N.Y.), and Joe Heck (R-Nevada).

Representative Carl Levin (D-Mich.) addressed President Barack Obama in his floor statement on Monday, emphasizing the importance of emergency unemployment benefits. Michigan, with a 7.7 percent unemployment rate, has one of the worst unemployment rates in the U.S., as of February 2014 stats from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. “I want to commend Senators on both sides of the aisle who have not given up on this issue and who worked so hard to forge a compromise,” Levin wrote. “It is now up to Speaker Boehner to respond to the will of the American people, who understand that people who are unemployed don’t want to be unemployed … there is no excuse for Speaker Boehner not to bring this bill to the floor of the House. I hope that he does so. It is in all conscience essential that he do so.”

“As the Speaker said months ago, we are willing to look at extending emergency unemployment insurance as long as it includes provisions to help create more private sector jobs — but, last week, Senate Democratic leaders ruled out adding any jobs measures at all,” said Michael Steel, spokesperson to Boehner, in a statement — reports The Washington Post. “The American people are still asking, ‘Where are the jobs?’ and House Republicans are focused on our jobs agenda for families and small businesses,” he said.

Last week, Boehner made his own statement on joblessness, saying that, “Under the Republican jobs plan, the House has passed dozens of bills that would help fuel economic growth by expanding all types of energy production, protecting families and small businesses from ObamaCare, improving education and job training,” and insisting that, conversely, “Senate Democrats have no excuse for standing in the way of these common-sense job measures, many of which passed with bipartisan support.”

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