Republicans are Pushing Hard to Extend Unemployment Benefits

Phila Unemployment Project

By Politico

The prospects of getting a long-term unemployment benefits extension through the House dim with each day that passes — but Sen. Dean Heller still sees a flicker of hope.

Fresh off a private conversation with House Speaker John Boehner that failed to yield a breakthrough, Heller (R-Nev.) has turned to House Rules Committee Chairman Pete Sessions (R-Texas), hoping Sessions can push through something, anything, that revives benefits that expired in December.

Heller and Sessions spoke on Wednesday morning about Heller’s unemployment benefits push, which has consumed the senator for the past four months.

“It’s not a Republican plan, it’s not the speaker’s plan or anything. It’s [Sessions’] plan. He has an idea of trying to push a UI bill on the House side,” Heller said in an interview. “It’s time for the House to do their work and just send us something. That’s what I told Pete, that’s my message even to the speaker. Send us something.”

It’s not clear what would be in a House unemployment extension — though it would certainly include provisions intended to stoke job creation that Boehner says the Senate’s bill lacks. Heller said the speaker’s position against the Senate’s bill in their Tuesday conversation was not surprising given broad opposition in the House to the Senate’s five-month extension.

“He’s trying to check the appetite. And today, probably that appetite’s not there,” Heller said.

Heller said that Sessions mentioned specifically including business-friendly tax provisions that recently expired as one avenue for a UI bill. An aide to Sessions clarified the Rules chairman has no concrete proposal as of Wednesday evening, but confirmed that Sessions is open to ideas about how to revive the benefits in a manner that House Republicans can accept. But what that bill includes and how long it would last remains unsolved.

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