Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) said Wednesday he wants to revive jobless benefits without offsetting the cost, hardening the Democrats’ position that at least a short-term extension must be enacted without strings attached.
“I am opposed to offsetting the cost of emergency unemployment benefits,” he said. “The five times President Bush extended emergency unemployment insurance, we never offset the cost. And we should not offset it now, when there is still only one job available for every three people seeking work.”
Reid said Democrats are “willing to discuss reasonable ways to pay for a
long-term extension of emergency benefits. But in the meantime,
Republicans should not punish 1.3 million Americans still struggling to
President Barack Obama also believes Congress should at least enact a
short-term extension of the emergency jobless benefits without a
pay-for, a senior administration official said. But he’s willing to
support an offset for a longer-term extension, the official said.
The insurance program lapsed on Dec. 28 for some 1.3 million long-term unemployed Americans. The Senate voted 60-37 on Tuesday to move forward with a clean three-month extension of jobless benefits, although some of the Republicans who voted yes may end up blocking it if an offset isn’t added.
Reid’s remarks move Democrats further away from House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH), who has elevated his demands for reviving the benefits to paying for them as well as tacking on unspecified jobs-related reforms. Notably, Reid and Boehner have each put the onus for proposing an offset on each other.