Sen. Dean Heller, one of the biggest advocates for unemployment insurance in Congress, called Speaker John Boehner on Tuesday afternoon to push the House to take up legislation extending the insurance benefits. But that chat ended just about where it began: It went nowhere.
Heller spokeswoman Chandler Smith described the conversation as “good,” but added: “Speaker Boehner relayed the same message that he gave to the White House. Senator Heller will continue to work to get something done.”
Boehner spokesman Michael Steel offered the same synopsis. “The Speaker spoke by telephone with Sen. Heller today, and told him the same thing he has told the White House since before Christmas: we’re willing to look at a plan that is paid-for and includes something to help create jobs. Unfortunately [Senate Majority Leader Harry] Reid ruled out adding jobs provisions,” Steel said in an email.
Time is running out for Heller and other advocates to get the Senate legislation through the House. The bill extends unemployment-insurance benefits through the end of May — just over four weeks away. Heller and Sen. Jack Reed, D-R.I., said earlier this month that if the House did not take up the legislation soon there would come a point when negotiators would have to start over. “There is a very short window,” Reed said.
But Heller pointed out Tuesday that the Senate bill also includes retroactive benefits for the millions of Americans who have lost their unemployment insurance since the program expired on Dec. 28. “We need to get this retroactively done to help these families that need the money,” the Nevada Republican said.
A handful of House Republicans have written to Boehner asking for a vote on unemployment-insurance benefits, while a few other Republicans have floated the possibility of attaching approval of the Keystone pipeline and other job-creation proposals to the bill in order to pass the Boehner test. But several lawmakers said that the issue has not been a topic of serious discussion within the House Republican Conference.
What We're Following See More »
Facebook "outlined new measures it is taking to combat what it calls 'information operations' that go well beyond the phenomenon known as fake news" on Thursday. Facebook acknowledged that there are governments using its platform as a tool to launch propaganda information campaigns and "manipulate public opinion in other countries. ... Facebook suspended 30,000 accounts in France ahead of last Sunday’s first-round presidential election."
President Trump’s portrayal of an effort to funnel more Medicaid dollars to Puerto Rico as a "bailout" is complicating negotiations over a continuing resolution on the budget. "House Democrats are now requiring such assistance as a condition for supporting the continuing resolution," a position that the GOP leadership is amenable to. it should be included. "But Mr. Trump’s apparent skepticism aligns him with conservative House Republicans inclined to view its request as a bailout, leaving the deal a narrow path to passage in Congress."
Democrats in the House are threatening to shut down the government if Republicans expedite a vote on a bill to repeal and replace Obamacare, said Democratic House Whip Steny Hoyer Thursday. Lawmakers have introduced a one-week spending bill to give themselves an extra week to reach a long-term funding deal, which seemed poised to pass easily. However, the White House is pressuring House Republicans to take a vote on their Obamacare replacement Friday to give Trump a legislative victory, though it is still not clear that they have the necessary votes to pass the health care bill. This could go down to the wire.
Members of Congress are eyeing a one-week spending bill which would keep the government open past the Friday night deadline, giving lawmakers an extra week to iron out a long-term deal to fund the government. Without any action, the government would run out of funding starting at midnight Saturday. “I am optimistic that a final funding package will be completed soon," said Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen, R-N.J., chairman of the House Appropriations Committee.