Senators seek compromise on unemployment standoff
January 13th, 2014
04:33 PM ET
6 years 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. mulwillie

    Don't be fooled by these Republicans who still hold their oath to Grover Norquist higher than their oath of office. They are refusing to close loop holes in the tax code that are basically corporate giveaways to pay for unemployment and military retirement.

    They want to attack Medicare by lowering payments to doctors. Then down the road they will call Medicare a problem and attack it again calling its a failure and point to low payments to providers as one of Medicares failings.

    Stop these servants of Grover Norquist and the rich form dismantling our government, it is the only protection the people have from the rich and powerful.

    January 13, 2014 06:41 pm at 6:41 pm |
  2. Gurgyl

    1. Thinks they themselves are rich.
    2. Makes less than $40, 000 per year.
    3. Has a net worth less than $50,000.
    4. Directly benefits from the ACA, but really, really hates Obamacare.
    5. Primary residence is on wheels or blocks.
    6. Racist.
    7. Thinks they are religious but they should read the book, "How NOT To Be A Republican" (a.k.a. The Bible).
    8. Probably retired and depending on SS and Medicare or will be the person most likely to need SS and Medicare.
    9. Likes to vote against their own interests.
    10. Acutally thinks republicans represent THEM!!!
    This what GOP garbage voter with no education thinks.

    January 13, 2014 06:42 pm at 6:42 pm |
  3. Anonymous

    Do they understand that while they take their holiday break and "postpone" votes, the people relying on this benefit have NO money coming in? I honestly can't believe these people have jobs because of the votes we give them. It's almost like we live in a third world country.

    January 13, 2014 06:45 pm at 6:45 pm |
  4. Richard Right

    Harry Reid says this is emergency funding and we never have required offsets in the past. The WV chemical spill was an emergency. this is 2014 and the economy started going south in 2008 after the housing bubble. There should be no surprise that people are unemployed, we are past 99 week funding. We need offset to avoid passing unnecessary expenditures on to my two grandchildren

    January 13, 2014 06:50 pm at 6:50 pm |
  5. don in albuquerque

    Once again Congress (Senate and House) prove themselves totally useless, and totally unable to govern. If we apologize sweetly to the Queen would she take us back. We clearly cannot run this country.

    January 13, 2014 06:52 pm at 6:52 pm |
  6. Guen

    Its amazing people get in an up roar about reducing Medicaid benefits, reducing prisoner health care benefits, or lowering some senators income.

    I have worked since I was 15yrs old, I'm now in my early 30's. I wake up looking for a job and finish my nights applying for jobs, the last thing I want is a hand out. This is first time I've been unemployed (even worked throughout college), unemployment benefits may give me back maybe 2% of the thousands of tax dollars I willing gave to the government.

    My solution to offset unemployment benefits;
    1.Cut tax credits for imported products from China
    2. Reduce congress salary
    3. God forbid cut on some of the funding for prisons

    Everyone appears to have there hand in the federal funding cookie jar, except the poor citizens that help put their money in there!

    January 13, 2014 06:54 pm at 6:54 pm |
  7. Linda

    Everyone in both parties agrees that getting people back to work is a top priority, right? So why not enact a bill that has two parts. Part 1 extends benefits to individuals, same as before. And Part 2 provides incentives for employers to hire from the long-term unemployed pool of talent first. It's not that people don't want to work and in many cases they actually do have the skills/education, the real problem is that they aren't being hired. I'm not thrilled with the idea of subsidizing corporations that are already doing quite well, but if that will solve the problem, shouldn't it at least be considered?

    January 13, 2014 07:03 pm at 7:03 pm |
  8. Sunchaserguy

    To Sonny Chapman, I hope for your sake, you never become unemployed by no fault of your own. Unemployment is paid to folks losing their jobs at no fault of their own. Each person is reviewed before receiving benefits. You will be the first to cry when your household is shock up. Compassion my friend, have some compassion.

    January 13, 2014 07:05 pm at 7:05 pm |
  9. n

    no more robbing from social security and medicare to pay for other programs!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    January 13, 2014 07:09 pm at 7:09 pm |
  10. Kmc

    My husband worked for 11 years for a company that randomly decided they would do away with that position in all of it's stores. 11 YEARS! faithful hard working employee and what did he get "You can either a.) apply for a lower pay lower hours position and you might get it. or B take unemployment and a severance pay and go now out the door. He was a supervisor mind you. it wasn't a lower position job. and he made decent money.. We have 5 kids. We didn't expect that to happen to us. He was also in college part time and this made him take the severance and unemployment. thinking anyone with this solid of a work history wont take long to get some kind of job.. well it's been over a year he has a part time job now and has for a year. but we can't live off otf that. he is almost done with college now only has until November but we just can't survive on part time $10 an hour! I get that people don't think it's a good idea to pay people to do nothing but I really hope something happens or bye bye home bye bye everything for us! I can't do much medical wise I have a few issue noone wants to hire me because of. I've been trying for 4 years to get a job with no luck.

    January 13, 2014 07:13 pm at 7:13 pm |
  11. Smitty

    Either extend it or find these people jobs, To all of you in D.C. get off your DUFFS and become productive. geeez, you just cant make this stuff up!!!

    January 13, 2014 07:14 pm at 7:14 pm |
  12. Stephanie

    Come on people!! It shouldn't be that hard! While the senate is bickering at each other like children, I am unable to buy groceries and pay my electric and gas bill. I can't put gas in my car to be able to get a job. Get your crap together senate cuz this is not helping anyone!!!

    January 13, 2014 07:23 pm at 7:23 pm |
  13. Anonymous

    Unemployment Must renewed, the senators don't care about people , the have everything what they want , Party, Vacations, Big house, swim pool .. how about other people like us ??? we can't pay our Bill , Create Jobs !!!!!!!

    January 13, 2014 07:23 pm at 7:23 pm |
  14. wigal

    I would like Congress to go without a paycheck. Let them dip into their savings so they can continue to live (if that's what you call it). Better yet, send out 15+ resumes a day to see how many responses they get back. I'm pretty sure they wouldn't postpone a vote then. Money for everyone and everything else but the people.

    January 13, 2014 07:34 pm at 7:34 pm |
  15. Evergreen

    The unemployed are your neighbors, former co-workers, the person in line at the checkout counter, etc. Stp being so mean-spirited. I'd worked since I was 16 years old, I was in my late 50's when I was laid off last year. Now I am being called lazy, need to "learn how to fish" or...should just die. C'mon people, we are better than this.

    January 13, 2014 07:37 pm at 7:37 pm |
  16. Name S. Bennett

    Most unemployment individuals are not lazy beings. Most are caught between sudden job loss caused by economic shut downs within companies and having not reached the attained age syndrome. We are the baby boon generation who have contributed to the pot however due to decades of poor management and descisions to preobligate funding sources is the bottom line and root cause of today's delays in making better choices and taking chances that create change within our government's leadership.

    January 13, 2014 07:43 pm at 7:43 pm |
  17. Mary

    What is Congress doing....................they keep stalling! So many people are unemployed and need the money to help them.
    How did this happen to our country, How can Congress deny benefits to people who have been looking for jobs to no avail I was in management for 22 years and then my job was eliminated in June, due to no fault of my own. I have looked and searched and applied and applied, but nothing yet. This act is so so unfair to thousands of people. Also how can the government take the money away from individuals three days after Christmas!! That was so awful and heartless. I hope that they will vote to reinstate the extended benefits to lessen the financial burden to honest, want to work, people. Thank you

    January 13, 2014 07:47 pm at 7:47 pm |
  18. maggie medel

    I think congress should have all there money taken away and see how they like. it's always screw the American people.

    January 13, 2014 07:52 pm at 7:52 pm |
  19. disappointed

    Never in my lifetime did I imagine to be on the unemployment line. Guess what? There for 4 months. Dreams of being the best flight attendant...shattered! I have 30 plus years in customer service and make the most miserable too happy. I go from one interview to another..always have the answer"we have other applications..we will call. Ummmm....trying damn hard and no one wants to hire the more than qualified!!! Government please
    ...give us some help!!!!!

    January 13, 2014 08:01 pm at 8:01 pm |
  20. Cloudy

    How can the government afford to promise or send money to all these other countries and not take Care of home?

    January 13, 2014 08:02 pm at 8:02 pm |
  21. Ed

    I lost my job in July, at the hands of a boss of 13 years, who has no sympathy for someone who's wife is fighting for her life while in the hospital Intensive Care Unit. The Government seems to always come up with laws that are either useless or have loop holes in them, like FMLA (which only applies to a company of 50 or more employees). I fell into that exact loop hole and now I have fell into the EUIC loop hole as I was still receiving my first 26 weeks of benefits on December 28th and filed my last claim week on January 4th. And, while I don't begrudge anybody who is unemployed for two years and collected all the tiers of EUIC, I think those of us who started receiving unemployment compensation should, at least, have the same right.

    January 13, 2014 08:02 pm at 8:02 pm |
  22. dab

    Right now in the name of Jesus, I declare victory for the unemployed. Any assignment/decision that is negatively affecting the people of this land, I send it back to the sender 7 times worse in Jesus name. I speak that the bondage and spirit of slavery which gave slave masters the right not to pay those who deserved it be cancelled and I call it null and void NOW IN THE NAME OF JESUS. I boldly proclaim that Unemployment Benefits be loosed and approved in Jesus Name!

    January 13, 2014 08:03 pm at 8:03 pm |
  23. Dan

    Stop letting a small number of people dictate how you de

    January 13, 2014 08:06 pm at 8:06 pm |
  24. keller

    I hope they vote soon!!! I know many Americans who will vote fast when it is our turn to make them unemployed!!! The problem is they won't go through their savings & live pay check to pay check. Most of them are millionaires & will live just fine!! I wish they could walk a day in the lives of unemployed people...the worry & stress would do them in!!!

    January 13, 2014 08:09 pm at 8:09 pm |
  25. ronnie tomasello

    I spend all of my time on my computer searching job sites. Some don't seem real,they say that the employer might not even have a opening,they are just collecting a list of people for when a job opens up. I submit to all of them but so far nothing. The last time I looked for a job was sixteen years ago. Back then I just looked in the newspaper made a few phone calls and got hired my first day. Things sure have changed. I'm almost broke and am a father of young twins. Been out of work for 13months.

    January 13, 2014 08:16 pm at 8:16 pm |
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