Senate Republicans need to hold the line against extending unemployment benefits

case1By Robert Romano

The filibuster is back. At least, that is, on legislation.

On January 14, Senate Republicans blocked two proposals from Harry Reid that would have extended long-term unemployment benefits.

The first was a $17 billion bill that would have extended benefits through November, with the only pay-for being a promised cut in spending—in 2024. It failed by a vote of 52 to 48.

The second was an unpaid-for $6.4 billion three-month extension that was defeated 55 to 45.

Both measures needed 60 votes in order to achieve cloture and move forward.

“It is refreshing that Senate Republicans have found the backbone to stop Harry Reid’s attempt to jam through a massive unemployment insurance extension spending increase without making the necessary cuts to pay for it,” Americans for Limited Government President Nathan Mehrens noted in a statement issued after the votes.

The logjam in the Senate was actually quite a turn of events.

After all, just on January 7, supplying the votes necessary to help Senate Democrats advance the bill in the first place were six Senate Republicans: Kelly Ayotte (N.H.), Lisa Murkowski (Alaska), Susan Collins (Maine), Bob Portman (Ohio), Dean Heller (Nev.), and Dan Coats (Ind.).

This time, the only Republican who joined with Democrats was Senator Heller of Nevada, who voted to advance the three-month extension.

On January 7 Heller issued a statement in favor of the short-term extension: “Inaction by Congress has left these individuals and families facing the New Year uncertain how they will pay their utility bills or feed their families.”

What this analysis leaves out is that the last round of extensions went up to 73 weeks in some states, and at one point were even as high as 99 weeks, far longer than one is required to work in order to receive the benefits.

Last week, ALG’s Mehrens noted the absurdity: “In some instances individuals need only work a couple quarters to qualify for benefits, receiving far more than they ever paid into the system. Is that fair? That makes these long-term unemployment benefits extensions not any sort of insurance, but a debt-creating welfare program.”

Now, Congress need only do nothing and benefits will be restored to their traditional 26 weeks.

But Senate Republicans have to hold the line, and refuse to give any more handouts that only treat the symptoms of what ails our economy and do nothing to help people get back to work.

The issue is not pay-for’s. It is that Congress 11 times since 2008 has issued band-aids to cover a gaping wound.

Instead, it is time for Congress to roll back the excess of regulations via the EPA’s carbon endangerment finding, new industry takeovers via Obamacare and Dodd-Frank, and the diversion of investment resources away from the private sector to government bonds via high deficits. It should consider tax reforms that reduce the burden of regular Americans and business, and ways to reduce the burden excessive government deficit-spending puts on the economy.

There are many things the government could be doing to help grow the economy and get people back to work. Just not welfare.

Robert Romano is the senior editor of Americans for Limited Government. 

This article has 8 comments
  • regulus30 15.01.2014 10:51 AM

    conservatives will win everything in 2014 ;; IF THEY BECOME THE PARTY OF “NO”.

  • pduffy 15.01.2014 11:59 AM

    Sen. Heller said, “Inaction by Congress has left these individuals and families facing the New Year
    uncertain how they will pay their utility bills or feed their families”.

    How will they pay THEIR bills? For starters, how about taking a job all of those ‘illegals’ are doing by not demanding ‘minimum wages’? Secondly, the ‘bills’ that they need to pay are THEIRS, not MINE!

    In socialist countries like Sweden, the unemployment rate magically dropped when their ‘unemployment benefits’ ran out, and the time it took to get another job was exactly the same as the time of the ‘benefit’. I wonder why?

  • reggiec 15.01.2014 1:05 PM

    Looks to me like some of the RINOs are realizing that there are elections coming up this November.

  • ERB 15.01.2014 1:13 PM

    Let them either get motivated and find a job, or stand in line at the welfare office.

  • Ann Wilson 15.01.2014 2:34 PM

    If the Feds didn’t spend 175 million on vacuum erection systems and Michele’s vacations then those who paid into unemployment their whole life would be able to collect some of what they have paid into for generations. Remember the illegal aliens, gotta save $$$ for their needs.

  • noelle20102 15.01.2014 3:31 PM

    ““It is refreshing that Senate Republicans have found the backbone to stop Harry Reid’s attempt to jam through a massive unemployment insurance extension spending increase without making the necessary cuts to pay for it,”

    THE HELL THEY HAVE!
    REPUBS SUCK AS MUCH AS THE DEMS DO!
    WE SHOULD BE MORE CONCERNED ABOUT THE $1.1+ TRILLION OMIBUS SPENDING BILL THAT IS GOING TO PASS THE US HOUSE BY THOSE F-ING REPUBS!!!
    ALL DEMS AND REPUBS ARE NO GOOD ANYMORE AND MUST BE FORCED OUT NOW!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • DAY8293A 15.01.2014 5:24 PM

    When niqqabama gets up and makes a statement of how bad a job he and the democrats are doing, and the fact that the economy is in the tank,,, then and only then do we even think about extending benefits. As long as the liar in chief is claiming the economy is improving, not a single dime for an extension! If he keeps claiming things are so great, why do we need an extension???? And, while we are at it,,, cut out niqqabama phones, welfare to illegals, tax returns to illegals, health care to illegals, etc etc. And, get rid of affirmative action and quotas while we are at it,, Enough is enough…

  • Charlene Mabie 15.01.2014 8:25 PM

    the problem I have is that with all the stupid freebies in this country, people on welfare with 10 kids and food stamps and the cell phone and I could go on and on the people that were working people, contributing to unemployment fees and lost their jobs due to the economy that Obama created are being penalized. take away all the the stupid freebies from the people that have never worked a day in their life and expect the government to take care of them. How could they pass a 1500 page budget without everyone reading it. I guess you have to pass it in order to know what is in it. politics as usual

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