House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi seized on Nevada GOP Gov. Brian Sandoval’s call for extending jobless benefits as a cudgel to attack House Republicans as “callous, shortsighted and immoral” for blocking a vote on it.
In a letter Thursday, the California Democrat thanked Sandoval and Rhode Island Gov. Lincoln Chafee (D) for endorsing the Senate-passed bill to revive unemployment insurance for the roughly 2 million long-term jobless Americans who have lost their benefits since the program expired on Dec. 28.
An excerpt from Pelosi’s letter:
It is unconscionable that the House has not acted to renew emergency unemployment insurance. But as you know, House Republicans have blocked the House from considering this desperately needed legislation each and every time Democrats have moved to hold a vote.
Never before has Congress allowed emergency unemployment insurance to expire while long-term unemployment rates have remained so high. Failure to restore this lynchpin of economic security for the long-term unemployed is costing us 240,000 jobs this year alone. House Republicans’ refusal to extend emergency unemployment insurance is callous, shortsighted and immoral.
The Senate legislation, with passed with six Republican votes, would resurrect the emergency benefits program through May, with retroactive compensation for those who lost it when it expired. Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) has decried it as “unworkable” and insists that it won’t come up in the House unless Democrats attach jobs-related provisions that Republicans can support.
Sandoval and Chafee addressed their open letter, dated April 11, to Boehner and Pelosi, saying the benefits were “critical to the families in our states” and insisting that states were “more than capable of implementing it” despite concerns about complexity. Pelosi’s responding letter, dated April 17, was likewise addressed to both governors, with Boehner copied.
“cc: The Honorable John A. Boehner, Speaker of the House,” the letter concluded.