House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) on Thursday said Democrats would not support a budget deal that does not extend emergency unemployment benefits, which are set to lapse on Dec. 28 for about 1.3 million people.
“Yes indeed, we are making a very clear statement that we cannot, cannot support a budget agreement that does not include unemployment insurance in the budget or as a sidebar in order to move it all along,” she said at a hearing she held on unemployment benefits. “It would undermine who we are as a country.”
Pelosi’s red line could complicate budget negotiations between Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) and Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA). Murray has pushed to include an extension of unemployment benefits in the agreement, but Ryan has resisted on the basis that it is too expensive and prefers to deal with the matter separately.
Murray has not publicly drawn the same red line regarding unemployment benefits and budget negotiations. She and Ryan have kept their negotiations very private.
Update: Pelosi walked back her remark slightly during a press conference later Thursday, saying that she “didn’t say” the unemployment benefits extension had to be in the Ryan-Murray budget. She clarified that it had to be done but could be done separately.
“What I said was I wanted to see the unemployment insurance in that [budget],” she said. “But it could be separate from that.”