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. abs314

    Wolf Blitzer posited that if we brought our troops home from Afghanistan 2 or 3 weeks earlier, that would save 6.5 billion dollars. (Not to mention fewer Americans being brought home in body bags.) This is only one example of how funding could be found to pay for extending unemployment. There is a lot of bad spending that should be halted or diverted to truly necessary programs, even without needing it now for unemployment.

    As for the job scene – the dismal November jobs report will likely be even more dismal in the next report when it shows that those 74,000 hires in November were let go after the holiday season. As someone 60 years old who worked in a high level executive assistant role steadily for the last 35+ years and has been laid off 4 times since 2007, with each resultant job being low level and low-paying, I can guarantee you that there are NO JOBS in this country. Most of what is posted is bogus, part-time or undesirable and none of them want to hire anyone with experience or over 50. This will be an extremely slow return to properity because there is simply no intelligent business leadership guiding it. And right now, there are still few jobs and an awful lot of good people who are desperate and hurting. And believe me, we will NOT forget Congress' posturing and spending today talking about football team colors instead of dealing with this issue.

    January 13, 2014 08:21 pm at 8:21 pm |
  2. Davey Havok

    Let us face it the middle class is getting terrifyingly smaller every day and soon we will begin to forget these childish high school political clicks we affiliate with and wake up one day to see the one and only thing we all have in common.....We are all POOR!
    So the question then is.... Whose side are you on?

    January 13, 2014 08:26 pm at 8:26 pm |
  3. Dan

    Stop letting a small number of people dictate how you decide to help the majority of Americans who need to feed them selves and there family. these people who pay taxes when they do work and have a vote will never, never forget how your inactions have affected there lives in these hard times.

    January 13, 2014 08:27 pm at 8:27 pm |
  4. Danielle

    I have been unemployed since March of 2013 due to the company I worked for closing doors. Myself and 100+ coworkers do everything possible to get back to work. We are not lazy we worked hard and got kicked to the curb. I started to take classes to try to better my chances of getting a job but this doesn't feed the 5 kids I have. My husband works but it isn't enough in this day in age with the cost of living these days.

    January 13, 2014 08:30 pm at 8:30 pm |
  5. pauk pauk

    we need extension. I do not find the job until now. I am not lazy. I want to work. I apply job everyday over the internet. Also call out. No one give me chance yet. On the other hand, take some classes nighttime. I do not want to go to class. I want to work. Does it. but, Where is our dream? I have been paying tax for years. Now we need it. we are not taking advantage. we made more than unemployment benefit when we work. Unemployment benefit is just for short term, we all know. People are not understanding because they are not on our seat. Come on people, give us your job. make sure, you can keep your job as much as you can wish for.

    January 13, 2014 08:33 pm at 8:33 pm |
  6. Bryon

    Does anyone even realized that they notified most people eight days before they stuck it to them. This is horrible and a nice Christmas present to many Americans. The end of the year has always been the toughest time to find work with companies reviewing budgets and what not. I am not saying that all the people that this affected are on the straight and narrow but the majority are trying to feed the kids. How do you think they slept at night during there sabbatical over the holidays? They slept great because they do not care about the average Americans.

    January 13, 2014 08:35 pm at 8:35 pm |
  7. Laura12

    Seriously it took me 6 months before I find a job and I have my bachelors .. The time theses people take to be diplomatic and compromise less fortunate feeling it hard they have money so why bother this is so sad what this government is doing and year just started people are broke and is not that people lazy and don't want to work is that jobs are hard to find, bottom line they should extent ui .

    January 13, 2014 09:04 pm at 9:04 pm |
  8. Deb Maxwell

    I know one thing for sure......I have worked for years, since being laid off enrolled back into school full time trying to better my for the government to say that they are the ones to decide IF we should have the unemployment benefits! I can barely get by on the benefits (make to much to get any other assistance). We do not ever see any of them going without! I would love to see them try to live on unemployment for one month – go without all of the benefits that they have handed to them.

    January 13, 2014 09:17 pm at 9:17 pm |

    I just dont understand what our government is thinking. It will be two weeks since UI has been released. The government needs to ask themselves every night while sitting down to dinner.... how it would feel as an american knowing their child, a grandchild, a parent or anyone close to them went to sleep hungry. I have been on unemployment for 8 months due to mass layoffs because our country's companies are outsourcing all our jobs overseas. I have been looking for a job everyday for 8 months. What i received thru unemployment barley got me thru each week. Mind you, when i eat it is mainly due to family and friends because of gas prices. There is one job for every three unemployed. Saticis want to imply that the freeze on UI has "made lazy Americans get off their azzes" all due to a spike in record numbets signing with Temp services when reality is, people cant afford to job search on their own. Our government needs to stop this tragedy they are creating and pass this vote. I put my last 10.00 in my gas tank tonight. I am 41, recently divorced, no dependants therefore i do not qualify for our so called welfare. I am pretty much homeless staying where i can when I can. I dont do drugs, have never been in the system but highly considering it. At least I would be provided 3 meals and a place to sleep. My GOD.....yes, i said it! What is our government thinking?

    January 13, 2014 09:19 pm at 9:19 pm |
  10. I need unemployment!!!!

    If anyone else saw the latest news, maybe we should stop making the Congress millionaires!!!!!! It was on then front page of Yahoo news. If they would take just a few dollars less for doing nothing, maybe we could get what we need to survive. PAY ME PLEASE. I can't pay my bills.

    January 13, 2014 09:31 pm at 9:31 pm |
  11. ThinkAgain - If you want Congress to actually do something FOR the American people, vote OUT the Repub/tea bag majority

    "or is that just another whopper of a lie from this regime????"

    To all those RWNJs using the word "regime" to describe the administration of our duly-elected President, I invite you all to go live in Syria to discover the true meaning of the word. BTW, no need to report back; we trust you'll get the lesson quick.

    January 13, 2014 09:33 pm at 9:33 pm |
  12. Susan

    One of the problems here is that nobody – not the Dems, not the Repubs – started dealing with this until the very last minute. The extension expired on Dec. 28. They should have begun dealing with this a year ago, not a couple of weeks ago. They're all being paid $174K/year. For what??

    January 13, 2014 09:33 pm at 9:33 pm |
  13. Name laid off 1976

    My husband has been off since July. Every company has 1 job and 100 applicants. His union contract doesn't have the money to keep his entire crew, cut hours. He's worked hard all his life. Now I'm feeding my children $1.00 Ramen Noodles some days. On the brick of eviction, bills over due. Are you kidding me. We need this extension. Our last 1/2 pay comes Wednrsday. Then what? Welfare?

    January 13, 2014 09:36 pm at 9:36 pm |
  14. BPete

    Well A Big Thank You For Taking Benefits Away From The Americans Who Dont Abuse It And Would Gladly Work Instead Of Wondering How To Strecth What Little Food Left To Feed Our Kinds For The Week,Not Being Able To Go To Their School Events Because Of Not Having Gas Or A Car,Sleeping Cold Because You Can't Afford Oil Should I Go On !!!! We Vote You In,,,,,We DON"T FORGET What Is Promised To Help Us AMERICANS Live And Care For Our Familie's!!! Quit The BS!!!! We're Workin Americans Not Looking For A Free Ride.....Just Lookining To Be Treated Like Human Beings YOUR messing WITH Peoples Lives VOTE AND PASS INSTEAD OF ANOTHER DELAY!!!! Proud To Be American Treat Us Like ONE!!

    January 13, 2014 09:41 pm at 9:41 pm |
  15. Terry Lee Wooten of Arizona

    Good evening my fellow Americans, it is a time to look at what is important to the survival of Americans which have worked hard and have paid unemployment taxes in the state they reside in. Unfortunately for many of these Americans, they have been laid-off or have lost jobs due to the poor economy, which forces some employers to shut their doors. Senators and Congressmen, please vote to extend these unemployment extensions, so that those who receive these benefits may contribute back to our economy until they can find employment.

    Respectively, Terry Lee Wooten

    January 13, 2014 09:46 pm at 9:46 pm |
  16. Lulu

    this is such a shame. I have masters in Finance and no one wants to hire me. There are not many jobs to apply actually. And even if I do, I do not receive calls. One month later or so those openings re- appear again. Are those 'jobs' real ? Why do they keep re-posting them ? I have great skills and experience, I want to work. PLEASE HIRE ME. ready to start TODAY.

    January 13, 2014 10:12 pm at 10:12 pm |
  17. Seriously

    So they postponed the vote, further delaying benefits for those who need it, so they could "vote" for the 1 trillion spending bill...awesome

    January 13, 2014 10:39 pm at 10:39 pm |
  18. Bella

    John Boehner needs to go for good. Last year, he was photographed shedding alligator tears due to what he alleged getting caught between a rock and a hard place. This year, the same BS from the speaker of the house. This is his last year and by god, he will leave our nation in such divide that he will have to relocate to another country to avoid all consequences of what he snobbishly stood for, last year and this year. The Tea Party wants to overthrow him and yet, he still pathetically cling to their ideology to promote unfair treatment of the real citizens of this country. Shame on you, John Boehner.

    January 13, 2014 10:54 pm at 10:54 pm |
  19. TKO

    Blessed are they who consider the poor, the lord will deliver them in time of trouble

    January 13, 2014 10:56 pm at 10:56 pm |
  20. Joe

    I am a 64 year old man, I have a Masters Degree in Education, Certified as a School Administrator, 26 year military service, Harvard Senior Executive Fellow, 9 years working in Afghan as a Contractor as a Nation Builder and now I am out of work...I have been applying for positions with School Districts, overseas companies, local businesses and no work. I ask for feed back on my resume and the interview; responses have all been positive...most common response, don't change your resume is perfect and you have great interview, why am I still unemployed going on 8 months?

    January 13, 2014 11:03 pm at 11:03 pm |
  21. notworking1.3million

    Congress has no idea what an average American is. Most of the congress are millionaires who have no idea what it is to live paycheck to paycheck. They simply can not comprehend the idea that after bills are paid every week, you have no money in your bank account and you still didn't pay all the bills due. Any congressman or representative who opposes the EUI extension should have all income and savings accounts frozen completely. They should start from zero with all of their bills due and only receive their pay for congress. every member of congress receives $3,346.15 a week in pay. If they had 1 deduction they would receive $2,212.80 a week net. Every person in congress should have to pay all bills on time for one month with NO savings or income from anything but their congressional pay check. That includes all meals, gas in the gov't car that drives them, the weekly salary of the driver and so on. After they say it's impossible, drop it to the most their state pays weekly in benefits such as PA which is $573.00. I dare any of them to say WE the unemployed are lazy, not looking for a job cause we are collecting or turning down a job that pays less than what we made prior to unemployment. Oh and by the way, WE unemployed pay taxes on our UI and our EIU. In PA, that means the a person who receives $573.00 a week ($14.33 and hour), receives $451.83 after taxes.

    January 13, 2014 11:18 pm at 11:18 pm |
  22. Hey GOP

    Either the GOP vote for unemployment or they can join them. A lot go GOP members will lose their jobs if they vote against this. I'm a democrat, but I will vote republican also. If the republicans vote this down, I along with a lot of other Americans will never vote GOP again.

    January 13, 2014 11:22 pm at 11:22 pm |
  23. NJunemoloyed

    So what do I tell the mortgage company, electric, gas and internet provider (which is used to find a new job after layoffs due to Super Storm Sandy. I have been working since I was 43 in fear if loosing everything not to mention feeding myself. Live my country fear my goverment has never rang so true

    January 13, 2014 11:48 pm at 11:48 pm |
  24. NJunemoloyed

    Typo- Love my country

    January 13, 2014 11:50 pm at 11:50 pm |
  25. J anet henderson

    How dare they play with peoples lives this is so wrong i bet they are still getting payed there familys fed house payments paid you think you have problems now just wait there will be more crime people will do anything to take care of there familys

    January 14, 2014 12:26 am at 12:26 am |
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