Senators seek compromise on unemployment standoff
January 13th, 2014
04:33 PM ET
10 months ago

Senators seek compromise on unemployment standoff

Updated 8:46 p.m. ET, 1/13/2014

Senate leaders postponed a key procedural vote on Monday on a proposal to extend long-term unemployment benefits for more than 1.3 million Americans.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said he would delay votes until Tuesday afternoon so that bipartisan talks aimed at reaching a compromise could continue.

Senators have yet to settle on a time-frame for any extension or the cost of such a proposal.

Negotiations center around finding ways to pay for renewing benefits, which could cost anywhere from $6 billion to $25 billion depending on how long they are extended.

Three-month and 11-month proposals have been floated with no agreement so far.

Sen. Dean Heller, a Nevada Republican who attended separate meetings in the Capitol with Reid and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, believes it will take until Tuesday at least "before any solid agreement comes together."

Sen. Susan Collins, a Maine Republican who attended the same meetings, said the talks were making "progress" but "it's a long way from being done."

The recession-era program that underwrote those benefits was not renewed when it expired in the last week of December. Federal checks kick in when state unemployment benefits are exhausted.

President Barack Obama and fellow Democrats are pushing for an extension, saying to do nothing would not only negatively impact the long-term unemployed but also hurt the economy.

Republicans say at least that any extension must be paid for through other spending cuts.

Collins and Heller are in a group comprised of several GOP Senators who are looking at a three-month extension.

"We continue to negotiate in good faith, and we are all encouraged that we are making progress on a package that could pass with bipartisan support," the group said in a statement on Monday night.

The plan would repeal recent and unpopular cuts in the military retiree cost-of-living adjustment included in December's budget agreement and would include offsets to pay for the unemployment extension and restoring the military benefits.

"Our solution would also allow for a reasonable number of related amendments to be offered by both sides, which would be a productive breakthrough."

Any proposal needs 60 votes to clear procedural hurdles in the Senate.

Democrats initially didn't want to pay for budget offsets but have agreed to consider them after Republicans said they would block the bill without them.

Democrats are also considering GOP ideas to reform the unemployment insurance program, such as developing worker retraining requirements.

In addition, Republicans, who complain Democrats regularly stifle their ability to amend legislation, are trying to get Democrats to agree to allow GOP floor amendments to both the unemployment bill and future legislation.

"There's a broader issue here, which is how we might be able to function as a Senate for the year, in terms of participation on both sides in fashioning legislation," said Sen. Dan Coats, an Indiana Republican who is also participating in the talks.

Reid said he is open to allowing amendments to the unemployment bill but doesn't want the bill "to get bogged down by a raft of political amendments" and "stunt votes" that could kill it.

The Republican-led House has not taken up any proposal to renew extended unemployment benefits.


Filed under: Senate • unemployment
soundoff (82 Responses)
  1. Lisa

    Since Obamacare has scarred employers to hire anyone and there are no jobs now because the economy continues to decline, peoples only choice is EUC or welfare. So either way the government is footing the bill. Chuck Obamacare and see how the economy improves. People have lost health insurance and forced to Obamacare, which is taking costly deductibles from people that are barely making ends meet. Noone wants UC but a thriving economy back with FULL TIME jobs. Americans want their dignity and pride back

    January 14, 2014 02:45 am at 2:45 am |
  2. Jezibel0807

    I agree with amellman completely I will admit I do not follow politics much maybe that makes me a bad american! Who knows but I live in a very small town the closest Walmart is 40 miles away! There are no jobs available here every week I go to the same places to no avail. I have been unemployed for almost 2 years I found a very part time job with a company that finds work for people with mental issues I'm bipolar. I have a strong background in retail management. It is demeaning and sad that I'm forced to wash cars and do simple factory work a monkey could do blindfolded for 7.40 an hr. If I were to get hired at say walmart after paying gas for a 80 mile round trip 5 days a week I would bring home about 75 dollars a week! Moving takes money which I don't have. Please for the love of God don't take the small EUC check I get! I don't know what ill do without it. Starve and be homeless I guess???

    January 14, 2014 04:25 am at 4:25 am |
  3. boomgrounder

    BTW I have filed for unemployment after this most recent layoff and due to problems with FL's website it took well over a month to receive the first claims check. Then when they switched websites again my claims check was delayed this time for 2 weeks. My state Unemployment Benefits will expire in 4 weeks. Hopefully, I'll have a job by then. But I'm not real hopeful as I haven't even had a call or been able to get an interview in over 4 months. I've redone my resume several times with the help of the state to literally try to dumb it down to attract lower paying jobs but no luck. A lot of it is my age. Most places don't want to hire a 51 year old man as a new hire.

    January 14, 2014 06:03 am at 6:03 am |
  4. Marie MD

    The Dems. should agree that all seeking extra unemployment benefits must stand in their Town Square with a sign saying, "I Am Lazy".
    Maybe they don't do it because it's a lie. I know people working two and three jobs (including weekends) trying to make ends meet because they can't find a job after being laid off for years.
    It seems that the more educated you are the more the excuse of "you are over qualified" comes up.

    January 14, 2014 06:40 am at 6:40 am |
  5. g

    i guess shipping manufacturing jobs overseas was not a good idea after all

    January 14, 2014 07:06 am at 7:06 am |
  6. RandyIA

    I don't get it. I hear one day, the economy is recovering, I hear the next day we need to extend benefits because there are no jobs. Which is it?

    January 14, 2014 07:24 am at 7:24 am |
  7. Colorado Native

    PLEASE figure something out, those of us out of work BY NO CHOICE need this extension!

    January 14, 2014 07:59 am at 7:59 am |
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