WASHINGTON (AP) — Republicans in the House have blocked a bill that would have extended jobless benefits for the long-term unemployed beyond the holiday season.
The most recent extension of jobless benefits expires Dec. 1. Two million people will lose benefits averaging $310 a week nationwide by the end of the year.
The measure would have extended jobless benefits through the end of February at a cost of adding $12.5 billion to the nation's debt. Republicans opposing the measure said that the measure should be paid for by cutting unspent money from last year's economic stimulus bill.
Democrats brought the measure to the floor under fast-track rules that required a two-thirds vote to pass, so the measure fell despite winning a majority.
Nov 18 (Reuters)
(Reporting by Andy Sullivan)
An effort to continue assistance for millions of jobless people who will see their benefits run out in coming weeks failed in the U.S. House of Representatives on Thursday.
By a vote of 258 to 154, the proposal to extend jobless benefits for three months fell short of the two-thirds margin needed to pass the House under special rules that limit debate.
The House could take up the measure again under normal rules that only require a simple majority for passage, but Congress has little time to act before benefits expire on Nov. 30. Lawmakers are not expected to be in town next week and the Senate has not scheduled a vote.
Congress has let jobless benefits lapse twice already this year as Republicans insisted that their cost -- $160 billion in the last fiscal year -- be offset with cuts elsewhere to prevent the nation's $14 trillion debt from growing further.
If the measure is not renewed, some 2 million Americans by the end of the year will stop getting the weekly checks that help them make ends meet as they look for work, according to the National Employment Law Project.
By Brian Faler
Nov. 18 (Bloomberg)
A bill to extend jobless benefits for three months was defeated today in the U.S. House, increasing the odds that some of the nation’s long-term unemployed will start losing aid.
The measure fell short of the two-thirds majority needed for approval under an expedited process. The vote on the bill was 258 in favor, 154 opposed.
Republican lawmakers complained that the bill’s $12 billion cost would be added to the government’s budget deficit. They demanded offsetting savings elsewhere in the budget.
The vote was a replay of a partisan dispute earlier this year that led to benefits being cut off for some jobless people for more than a month. Aid again is set to expire Nov. 30 for some of the unemployed.
No firm number of those who would be affected was available, though Representative Sander Levin, a Michigan Democrat and chairman of the House Ways and Means committee, estimated almost 2 million Americans could see their aid cut off by the end of this year if Congress does not act.
The nation’s unemployment rate in October was 9.6 percent.
Congress will be out of session next week for the Thanksgiving holiday, which means lawmakers will have little time to find agreement by the end of this month.
“This bill is like déjà vu all over again, and not in a good way,” said Representative Charles Boustany, a Louisiana Republican. “We all want to help those in need but the American people also know someone has to pay when government spends money, and it shouldn’t be our children and grandchildren.”
Levin said, “I don’t see how we can go home for Thanksgiving when as a result of a failure of benefits, hundreds of thousands of people may not have a turkey on their table because they can’t afford it.”