Club for Growth Calls on Senators to Reject Unemployment Extension

Monday, 06 Jan 2014 02:35 PM

By Sandy Fitzgerald

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Lawmakers should oppose reauthorizing federal unemployment benefits unless the government finds money to pay for the $6 billion price tag, the conservative Club for Growth says, urging lawmakers to vote against the measure.

"Congress should end the federal unemployment insurance program and return the authority back to the states, which already have programs in place," Andrew Roth, the Club for Growth's vice president of government affairs, wrote in an open message to senators on the organization's blog. "Absent this, Congress should pay for this extension by cutting spending elsewhere in the budget."

The federal emergency benefits were first offered nearly six years ago through former President George W. Bush, reports The Hill.

Roth said in his message to the Senate that his group thinks that after six years, "an extension can no longer be called an 'emergency' with any credibility. There is plenty of waste in the federal budget from which to find an offset."

He pointed out that the Club for Growth maintains a Congressional Scorecard that provides a rating of how well each member supports "pro-growth, free-market policies," and distributes the report card to the public.

The Senate is to vote on a motion Monday to begin debating a three-month continuation of emergency unemployment benefits, which ended on Dec. 28.

The continuation legislation is a bipartisan bill co-sponsored by Sens. Dean Heller, R-Nev., and Jack Reed, D-R.I., and would cost around $6.4 billion in money that will not come from other spending cuts, reports The Hill. Should the benefits be extended a year, the price goes up to around $25 billion.

The cut left about 1.3 million people who have been unemployed for at least six months without checks. The Obama administration is pushing lawmakers to extend the program, and Democratic lawmakers have mentioned using farm bill savings to pay the cost.

House Speaker John Boehner has rejected their plans, and only a few Republicans back pushing a bill through without offsets in other spending items. However, his spokesman, Michael Steel, said last week that the speaker still would "clearly consider" extending the unemployment program "as long as there are other efforts that will help get our economy moving once again."

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