Durbin: Unemployment benefits won't make or break budget deal
December 8th, 2013
05:26 PM ET
11 months ago

Durbin: Unemployment benefits won't make or break budget deal

(CNN) - The second-ranking Senate Democrat said Sunday that extending unemployment benefits won't necessarily be a sticking point for his party in budget negotiations, though he hopes they are included.

"No, I don't think we've reached that point where we've said this is it - take it or leave it," Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Illinois, said on ABC's "The Week" when asked if his party would demand the extension of jobless benefits be included budget talks.

House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wisconsin, and Senate Budget Chairman Patty Murray, D-Washington, lead a budget conference committee that has until the end of this week to set the spending level for the federal government to avoid another potential budget showdown.

Current funding for the federal government runs out in mid-January around the same time as billions in new budget cuts are set to hit as a part of sequestration. Ryan and Murray's committee was formed after the last partial government shutdown in October.

Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio who sits on the House and Senate negotiating panel, also appearing on ABC, said he's "hopeful" that a deal would be reached by the end of this week and was glad Durbin indicated that Democrats wouldn’t tie the budget deal to extending jobless benefits.

Durbin said he had spoken with Murray recently, and "negotiations are making progress, moving in the right direction."

"They haven't closed the deal, but I certainly hope as part of it that negotiators will take to heart what the President had to say. There are working families across America that are struggling. There are unemployed families who need a helping hand," Durbin said.

President Barack Obama used his weekly address to push Congress to extend unemployment benefits, which expire December 28 for 1.3 million workers, echoing comments he made in a speech earlier last week on the growing gap between the wealthy and the poor in the United States.

House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, has said he's open to legislation that extends the benefits.

The monthly economic report released last week showed that unemployment has fallen to 7%, its lowest level since November 2008, and that the economy added 203,000 jobs in November, showing steady but painfully slow economic progress.

Extending jobless benefits for another year would cost about $26 billion, according to the Congressional Budget Office.

CNN Capitol Hill Reporter Lisa Desjardins contributed to this report.


Filed under: Budget • Dick Durbin • Rob Portman
soundoff (9 Responses)
  1. Jeff Brown in Jersey

    Durbin is always the first to cave and the GOP knows it.

    December 8, 2013 05:32 pm at 5:32 pm |
  2. king

    lesson folks unemployment need to be extended for our local economy, the big boys are not investing in our communities, so we need us to buy stuff and allow shop keepers, small business owners, to keep hiring folks, so we need money to spend to keep them in business. the repubs only cares about the big boys, who keeps building their businesses in china to support Chinese arm forces. we need money to spend here DAM IT not china. these repubs shout that unemployment extension is setting a bad example to americans, and they will get lazy and dont work. well repubs if you stop cutting the government to pieces maybe the government will give them a lone to start new businesses, and maybe if you guys try a jobs bill it wont hurt either, hey and another thing, why dont you hold big businesses accountable for taking their factories to china to build up their arm forces against us, it wont kill you to ask them to invest here instead of china some of the times.

    December 8, 2013 07:10 pm at 7:10 pm |
  3. Peppy

    Trust this guy, not, truly a bamman suck-up. Who by the way is now being accused of lying about Syria, remember the one that Putin bailed him out on.

    December 8, 2013 08:04 pm at 8:04 pm |
  4. Evergreen

    The government shut down cost the taxpayers 24 billion Dollars and nothing to show for it. We now see that money could have provided additional help to over one million families. Congress forgets that the unemployed were once taxpayer...and are trying hard to become taxpayers again.

    December 8, 2013 08:12 pm at 8:12 pm |
  5. RonL

    It is kind of sickening that the focus always seems to be more on cutting assistance to the struggling poor in our nation than to get rid of some of the ridiculous tax breaks given to the wealthy. It is absurd that we will give farmers and/or owners of farm land hundreds of thousands of tax dollars at the same time we want to drop millions of Americans off of snap. Republicans don't want to raise the minimum wage when EVERYONE knows many of the people on the SNAP program work either part time or full time. There is absolutely NO historic evidence raising the minimum wage will result in the lost of jobs. Will the cost of some items have to be raised 10%-15% to offset the raise MAYBE, one thing that WILL HAPPEN, 80% of the money earned by low wage workers will go right back into the economy because they are barely surviving. This will increase demand and result in more hiring not less.....

    December 8, 2013 10:23 pm at 10:23 pm |
  6. Fry85

    But I thought the economy was doing wonderful? Oh wait!

    December 8, 2013 11:11 pm at 11:11 pm |
  7. Name Uche Agonsi

    Even when i dont consider this budget conference a fun game, i still itch to see the GOPers initiatives for eradicating poverty in US, not only seeking for votes from these poor people and balancing budgets in a recession prone world.

    December 9, 2013 01:11 am at 1:11 am |
  8. J.V.Hodgson

    Extending unemployment benefits and Food stamps are no brainers... Wow never realized it before that means republicans can vote for them both!?
    Regards,
    Hodgson.

    December 9, 2013 02:24 am at 2:24 am |
  9. Gurgyl

    Passage of budget is now-a-days a "SABOTAGE" of Healthcare Law. At least these congressional thugs better know now "ACA IS A LAW", totally "INDISPENSABLE". –national dire need.

    December 9, 2013 07:44 am at 7:44 am |