First GOP Governor Calls On Boehner To Extend Unemployment Benefits

Julie Jacobson/AP

Nevada’s Brian Sandoval became the first Republican governor to publicly call on House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) to revive unemployment insurance for more than 2 million Americans.

In a letter dated April 11, Sandoval and Rhode Island Gov. Lincoln Chafee (D) endorsed the Senate-passed bill to extend long-term jobless benefits through the end of May, with retroactive compensation for those who lost it when the program expired on Dec. 28.

“These unemployment benefits are critical to the families in our states and we look forward to working with you,” the governors wrote to Boehner and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA).

Boehner has said the bill is “simply unworkable” and maintains that he won’t bring it up in the House unless Democrats agree to attach jobs-related provisions. When asked what specific provisions would make the bill acceptable to him, he punted and said the White House should come up with an offer. Many House conservatives don’t want to bring back the emergency jobless aid program, which was first enacted in 2008 amid economic free-fall.

Sandoval and Chafee, seemingly responding to Boehner’s concerns, said in the letter that despite “inherent complexities” with implementing the legislation, “our states are more than capable of implementing this legislation, including the administration of retroactive benefits, which we have successfully done in the past.”

Rhode Island has the highest unemployment rate in the country (9 percent) and Nevada the third-highest (8.5 percent), according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

House Democrats have repeatedly urged Boehner to allow a vote on the Senate bill. It passed with the votes of six Republican senators.

UI Letter – Sandoval & Chafee