With the long-term unemployment extension that was cut off at the end of Dec 2013, approximately 1.3 million people were left high and dry, waiting to find out if it would be extended when Congress returned from their holiday break.
It has been extended in the Senate vote, and after passing the House, those who have been unemployed for more than six months will be getting the extended benefits.
In a Senate vote of 60 to 37, the extension of benefits was granted for another three months. However, it still has to pass the House vote.
Of the 60 yes votes to extend, the four Republicans who voted yes made it decidedly clear that they wanted the cost of this extension offset by other budget cuts, somewhere.
“It was in the balance till the very last minute,” said Senator Jack Reed, Democrat of Rhode Island, an author of the measure with Senator Dean Heller, Republican of Nevada.
And President Obama kept the pressure on the Senate, as well as the House, to pass this bill as he spoke from the East Room in the White House.
“We’ve got to get this across the finish line without obstruction or delay,” he said, even as he praised the surprise outcome.
But, there always has to be a fly in the ointment – and that fly in this ointment was John A. Boehner of Ohio, who made it abundantly clear that those extension benefits would have to be paid for one way or another, and the repayment must be tied to Republican priorities. Some of those priorities he was speaking about included the Keystone XL oil pipeline, expanding exemptions from the Affordable Care Act and opening energy exploration on federal land.
“One month ago I personally told the White House that another extension of temporary emergency unemployment benefits should not only be paid for but include something to help put people back to work,” Mr. Boehner said after the Senate vote. “To date, the president has offered no such plan. If he does, I’ll be happy to discuss it, but right now the House is going to remain focused on growing the economy and giving America’s unemployed the independence that only comes from finding a good job.”
Either way, let politics be politics, the American’s who feared losing those benefits forever have just received some great – and much needed – news.
Image via NDN