Unemployment Insurance Has Little GOP Support

Monday, 06 Jan 2014 09:07 AM

By Lisa Barron

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With a Senate vote on extending unemployment insurance to more than 1 million Americans scheduled for Monday evening, it is not clear there will be enough Republican support for the bipartisan plan to pass.

A proposal by Republican Sen. Dean Heller of Nevada and Democratic Sen. Jack Reed of Rhode Island  would provide benefits to about 1.3 million eligible workers for three months, costing roughly $6.5 billion.

While it has the support of Heller and 55 members of the Senate Democratic caucus, many GOP senators have said they won't back the program because it does not include a way to pay for the benefits, reports The Washington Post.

Spokespeople for Republican Sens. Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, Saxby Chambliss of Georgia, Johnny Isakson of Georgia, Rob Portman of Ohio, and Roger Wicker of Mississippi, all states with high unemployment rates, told the newspaper that the legislators will vote against the Reed-Heller proposal.

Aides to Bob Corker of Tennessee and Mark Kirk of Illinois, also states with high levels of unemployment, told the Post they didn't know how the senators would vote.

Meanwhile, Organizing for Action, the Obama administration's lobbying arm, has planned events in 30 cities for Tuesday to pressure Republicans to support the plan, reports Politico.

Labor groups are also organizing phone calls to the Capitol and holding a Wednesday rally featuring unemployed workers and Democratic members of Congress who support the proposal, according to the publication.

But a spokesman for House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, reaffirmed on Sunday that he would not consider any unemployment benefit extension unless it is paid for.

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