Republicans Offer Their Own Unemployment-Insurance Plan

The five-month extension could endanger a separate Democratic bill.

OAKLAND, CA - JULY 11: A protester holds a sign during a demonstration against unemployment benefit cuts on July 11, 2012 in Oakland, California. Dozens of protesters with the group Union of Unemployed Workers staged a demonstration to protest cuts in unemployment benefits.
National Journal
Sarah Mimms
Add to Briefcase
Sarah Mimms
March 6, 2014, 2:41 p.m.

Sen­ate Re­pub­lic­ans re­leased their own le­gis­la­tion to ex­tend un­em­ploy­ment-in­sur­ance be­ne­fits Thursday even­ing, un­der­cut­ting a sep­ar­ate ef­fort offered by Sen. Jack Reed that has the sup­port of Demo­crat­ic lead­er­ship.

The Re­pub­lic­an plan would ex­tend the be­ne­fits, which kick in after an in­di­vidu­al has been un­em­ployed for at least 26 weeks, for five months in­clud­ing ret­ro­act­ive be­ne­fits. If passed im­me­di­ately by both cham­bers, the new be­ne­fits would ex­pire again for all be­ne­fi­ciar­ies in late May while Con­gress works to find a longer-term solu­tion. In oth­er words, those who hit the 26-week quota be­fore the ex­ten­sion is made law would get far less than five months of be­ne­fits.

Sig­ni­fic­antly, the pro­pos­al would re­quire be­ne­fi­ciar­ies to ac­cept any of­fer of “suit­able work” or any po­s­i­tion re­com­men­ded to them by a state em­ploy­ment agency.

The new pro­pos­al is co­sponsored by the very Re­pub­lic­an sen­at­ors that Demo­crats have been lob­by­ing to sup­port their own bill, po­ten­tially put­ting Reed’s six-month ex­ten­sion on ice. They are Sens. Dean Heller of Nevada, Susan Collins of Maine, Rob Port­man of Ohio, Dan Coats of Illinois, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Kelly Ayotte of New Hamp­shire, and Mark Kirk of Illinois. Heller, in par­tic­u­lar, has been work­ing with Reed and oth­er Sen­ate Demo­crats for months to re­in­state the be­ne­fits.

A Sen­ate Demo­crat­ic aide with know­ledge of the talks ex­pressed frus­tra­tion Wed­nes­day that Port­man was not ne­go­ti­at­ing “in good faith” and had be­gun pulling Re­pub­lic­an sup­port­ers away from the Demo­crat­ic solu­tion to­ward a pro­pos­al of his own.

“Since the be­gin­ning of the de­bate, I’ve stood ready to work in a bi­par­tis­an man­ner for a solu­tion for the long-term un­em­ployed,” Port­man said in a state­ment ac­com­pa­ny­ing the text of the bill. “I’m hope­ful my col­leagues on both sides will get be­hind this pro­pos­al so we can start work­ing on real, per­man­ent solu­tions for the Amer­ic­an people.”

Murkowski, who has voted in fa­vor of pre­vi­ous at­tempts to re­store the be­ne­fits, took an even harder line. She has been strongly crit­ic­al of Reed’s new plan, which would pay for the ex­ten­sion us­ing sav­ings from the farm bill, which Re­pub­lic­ans be­lieve will nev­er ma­ter­i­al­ize.

“If the Sen­ate does not and will not al­low this bill to come up for a vote — in­stead push­ing a party-line meas­ure paid for by budget gim­micks — it should be clear that they are more in­ter­ested in cable TV talk­ing points than help­ing Amer­ic­ans in need,” she said.

The Re­pub­lic­an plan would pay for the five-month ex­ten­sion by ex­tend­ing cus­toms user fees through 2024, pre­vent­ing be­ne­fi­ciar­ies from also re­ceiv­ing So­cial Se­cur­ity dis­ab­il­ity in­sur­ance, and ex­tend­ing pen­sion smooth­ing (which would al­low em­ploy­ers to con­trib­ute less to their em­ploy­ees’ pen­sion plans). Not­ably, Re­pub­lic­ans re­jec­ted the lat­ter off­set earli­er in the ne­go­ti­ations.

The bill would also re­form the over­all pro­gram, re­quir­ing state and fed­er­al agen­cies in­volved to identi­fy why an ap­plic­ant is un­em­ployed and “identi­fy steps” that per­son should take “to im­prove em­ploy­ment pro­spects.” It would also pre­vent “mil­lion­aires and bil­lion­aires” from re­ceiv­ing the be­ne­fits, ac­cord­ing to a re­lease.

Also on Thursday, House Demo­crats made a stronger push for an ex­ten­sion in a let­ter to House Speak­er John Boehner signed by 161 of their mem­bers. The let­ter cites a re­port from the Cen­ter on Budget and Policy Pri­or­it­ies es­tim­at­ing that 200,000 vet­er­ans have now lost their un­em­ploy­ment-in­sur­ance be­ne­fits.

What We're Following See More »
ARE “OPEN TO NEGOTIATION”
Sens. Paul, Cruz, Johnson and Lee Oppose Senate Health Care Bill
4 hours ago
THE LATEST

The four Senators released a joint statement, saying in part, "There are provisions in this draft that repreesnt an improvement to our current health care system, but it does not appear this draft as written will accomplish the most important promise we made to Americans: to repeal Obamacare and lower their health care costs."

Source:
UNKNOWN IF TRUMP WANTS 2024 GAMES IN L.A.
Trump Meets With International Olympic Committee Today
4 hours ago
THE LATEST

"President Trump will meet with the International Olympic Committee Thursday amid a battle between Los Angeles and Paris for the right to host the 2024 games. The meeting at the White House will come roughly three months before members of the IOC vote on which of the two cities will welcome the Olympics during what could be the final year of Trump's presidency, should he win re-election. Trump has remained largely silent on whether he plans to fight for the U.S. to receive the games in 2024."

Source:
TRUMP SUGGESTED THERE WERE TAPES
No Comey Tapes
5 hours ago
THE LATEST

Trump tweeted Thursday afternoon, "With all of the recently reported electronic surveillance, intercepts, unmasking and illegal leaking of information, I have no idea whether there are "tapes" or recordings of my conversations with James Comey, but I did not make, and do not have, any such recordings."

Source:
DEVELOPING
Senate Healthcare Bill In Trouble?
6 hours ago
BREAKING
ALTERED, STOLE VOTER INFO
Russian Hacking More Extensive Than Previously Reported
6 hours ago
BREAKING

"The hacking of state and local election databases in 2016 was more extensive than previously reported, including at least one successful attempt to alter voter information, and the theft of thousands of voter records that contain private information like partial Social Security numbers. ... Congressional investigators are probing whether any of this stolen private information made its way to the Trump campaign. ... The House Intelligence Committee plans to seek testimony this summer from Brad Parscale, the digital director of the Trump campaign."

Source:
×
×

Welcome to National Journal!

You are currently accessing National Journal from IP access. Please login to access this feature. If you have any questions, please contact your Dedicated Advisor.

Login