Reid blames Republican 'foolishness' for benefits gap
January 5th, 2014
01:07 PM ET
10 months ago

Reid blames Republican 'foolishness' for benefits gap

Washington (CNN) - Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said on Sunday that, while he's hopeful an extension of unemployment benefits will pass the Senate, he railed against Republicans for refusing to pass the measure without offsets, lambasting the GOP for isolating Americans "desperate" and out of work.

"We have never offset emergency spending. That's foolishness," Reid told CNN's Alison Harding.


Speaking after his appearance on CBS's "Face the Nation," Reid excoriated his Republican colleagues for playing politics with the livelihoods of unemployed Americans and quickly dismissed any notion that he would accede to GOP demands to offset the projected $26 billion cost of extending emergency benefits.

"The middle class is being squeezed out of existence," Reid said. "The American people want unemployment benefits extended. That’s it."

A spokesman for House Speaker John Boehner told CNN that the Republican leader will insist there be offsets before he agrees to extend long-term unemployment benefits.

Sen. Rand Paul, R-Kentucky, echoed Boehner's stance on ABC's "This Week."

"I'm opposed to having it without paying for it," Paul said. "I think it's wrong to borrow money from China or simply print up money for it."

Despite the vocal opposition, Reid remained confident he could scrounge the 60 votes required to clear the first procedural hurdle. The Senate plans to take up the measure when it returns from holiday recess Monday.

"There’s 55 of us, and there's 45 of them," Reid said on CBS's "Face the Nation." "It would seem to me that five Republicans in the Senate should agree with the Republicans around the country.

"Hopefully we can get four more Republicans," he said, after noting Sen. Dean Heller, R-Nevada, had already defected from his caucus to support the measure.

Reid, however, indicated he could take extraordinary measures if his caucus is unable to sway Republicans to join him in voting on the issue. In 2013, the Nevada Democrat backed the so-called "nuclear option," a rules change that eliminated the filibuster for many presidential nominees. While he conceded that "we're not there yet," Reid would not rule out expanding the nuclear option to other procedural votes, like the forthcoming one on unemployment benefits.

"I'm not thinking about that today," he said.

Reid's words are in lock step with the White House's push to have long-term benefits extended. On CNN's "State of the Union," Gene Sperling, President Barack Obama's top economic adviser, warned that not passing the financial protections would hurt the country and hurt Republicans at the polls in 2014.

"We have never cut off emergency unemployment benefits when the unemployment rate is this high," Sperling said.

CNN's Susan Garraty contributed to this report.


Filed under: Harry Reid • House Republicans • unemployment
soundoff (19 Responses)
  1. Tampa Tim

    Enough – Yesterday you wrongly pointed out that extending unemployment benefits would not create jobs. I would like to remind you that Republican economics gave us the Great Depression, the Great Recession of 2008, and a loss of 8 million jobs in 2008. It is obvious that you struggle with reality, so I would encourage you to read other reports, and not go to Doocy for your talking points.

    January 5, 2014 01:17 pm at 1:17 pm |
  2. Mike Texoma

    100% behind Harry on this.

    January 5, 2014 01:18 pm at 1:18 pm |
  3. Gurgyl

    ---do not you ever worry, every one knows GOP is bunch of nonsense, trash. USA knew so the world.

    January 5, 2014 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  4. Norma Vessels

    Thank you, Senator Reid, for staying in the fight. I'm so glad you're on our side. Thank you.

    January 5, 2014 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  5. @RI_Roger

    It would be better to create jobs than to pay people for not working. Someone could create some good jobs for $25 billion! Oh, that won't buy any votes for the Democrats in need in the upcoming November elections.

    January 5, 2014 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  6. Name jk. Sfl. GOP CRUZ lee&rubio 24billion dallar LOSS of your tax money conservatives,the garbage of America.

    He's right, the GOP has done nothing for anybody for over five years unless your an oil company. Why would anybody want to vote for the GOP??????

    January 5, 2014 01:35 pm at 1:35 pm |
  7. rs

    While Reid could be less partisan, the GOP is responsible for a war on the middle class. The GOP does not support: livable wage; minimum wage increases; unions; equal pay for women; reasonable taxation for the rich- in a nation today where corporate heads make 475 times the amount of their base full-time employees.
    The Gop needs to work for the majority of Americans- not the plutocratic class.

    January 5, 2014 01:38 pm at 1:38 pm |
  8. king

    first Reid need to protest the likes of fox news, for convincing the people that being poor is a good thing, and the mare mentioning of the rich sharing their wealth with the american people is blasphemous. lesson folks we all know that sucking the money out of our economy to give to the rich just leave the economy with less money that the rich wont invest in. rather they'll invest in up and coming markets like India and china, which has 4 to 5 times more spenders that us. all the rich will do is hire a bunch of robots and computer systems to do the jobs in America, then hire human labor in china because china laborers are dirt cheap. that why stations like fox news doesn't hire any dems to tell the other side of their rich corporate friends. their station is esclusives to helping the rich, and telling the american people that fighting for self interest like healthcare and better wages are not good for them nor the economy. so they should give more money to the rich, to invest in china, and that will be better for them. the irony is a lot of Americans believe this rubbish. that's why fox will never hire a dem on their news station to host. because the other side might get exposed.

    January 5, 2014 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  9. SMITVICT

    So is Harry agreeing after 5 years of Obama the economy is so bad it needs emergency unemployment measures?

    January 5, 2014 01:59 pm at 1:59 pm |
  10. Donna

    Wow... now this is an emergency??? Is that because after 7 years of Democrat control and destruction of our economy we have had record unemployment for a record length of time? Yup.

    Now remember people, this is the same duplicitous clown that voted to cut this spending less than a month ago. Proof positive that you simply cannot believe these lying deceitful snakes one iota.

    January 5, 2014 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
  11. Julie

    We've had five years now of "emergency spending"....I thought the economy was recovering, Harry? At some point, there has to be a price to pay for all of this emergency spending. Why, Harry, are you against finding an offset in the budget? Are you just looking for a wedge issue to try to prevent losing your status as majority leader????

    January 5, 2014 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  12. ThinkAgain - If you want Congress to actually do something FOR the American people, vote out the Repub/tea bag majority

    "The middle class is being squeezed out of existence," Reid said.

    Yep, and that's exactly what the GOP wants: To get rid of that pesky middle class which believes in living wages, opportunities for education, healthcare, and the prosperity that comes from actually working for a living (as opposed to the GOP who make money by moving it around or by owning sweatshops overseas).

    January 5, 2014 02:44 pm at 2:44 pm |
  13. TheFred

    I thought the economy was humming along under Obozo's policies? Why the need to extend unemployment? Just asking...

    January 5, 2014 03:34 pm at 3:34 pm |
  14. woody

    I heart Harry. LOL

    January 5, 2014 03:36 pm at 3:36 pm |
  15. Smitty

    The facts are the repubs have sent 30 or so job bills to Reid, him and Oblunder are doing everything they can to ruin this once great country. Once again all the dems do is make excuses and point and blame. Once again congrats To Obammy for winning BIGGEST LIAR OF THE YEAR !!!

    January 5, 2014 03:51 pm at 3:51 pm |
  16. Randy, San Francisco

    The Republican Tea Party is just perpetuating its image as the party of greedy and heartless scrooges.

    January 5, 2014 03:57 pm at 3:57 pm |
  17. Sl 500 AMG

    How long do we have to fund these jobless losers? there has been 99 weeks of unemployment , thats almost two years for god sake!!!!! Get a job, do something!

    January 5, 2014 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |
  18. Just me

    "If I can't sway their opinion and get them to bend to my will, I'll just go around them and do it anyway" – that sounds like a great team player right there... doesn't anyone think that perhaps there are valid reasons why the GOP doesn't want to vote with these policies/laws??? Perhaps they have valid concerns and that the progressive leftists have gone too far? If there's no way to pay for the program then it shouldn't be happening. You can't just keep passing policies without supporting them. At some point the government will run out of money – then what?

    January 5, 2014 04:52 pm at 4:52 pm |
  19. barryinlasvegas

    The reason there continues to be an emergency is because Harry Reid, Obama and the Democrats have done nothing about what they only talk about – jobs – jobs – jobs.

    What they are good at is spending money we don't have, incurring more debt and talking blaming republicans for what they weren't able to do with the $1 billion dollar stimulus – that they wasted.

    January 5, 2014 04:52 pm at 4:52 pm |