GOP Dissappoints Again on Unemployment Benefits

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In a disappointing vote on Thursday, Senate Republicans once again blocked the advance of legislation to restore benefits for the long-term unemployed for the second time in less than a month.

As a result of the vote, millions of families will not receive unemployment benefits in an economy that is still in recovery. Many of these families are struggling to keep their homes and to feed their children because they lost their jobs.

Republicans opposed the measure even though Democrats gave them several of the concessions they demanded.

Democrats proposed a bill that was fully paid for and offered to give Republican lawmakers the opportunity to make changes if they could round up enough votes.

Republican critics of the bill said they opposed turning a temporary federal benefit into another welfare program.

The legislation called for a three-month renewal of an expired program that provided up to 47 weeks of federal benefits when state-paid aid runs out, generally after 26 weeks. The cost was estimated at slightly more than $6 billion over a decade. It would have been offset by lowering pension obligations for some companies, which would have increased their taxable income.

Under the bill, unemployed workers whose state benefits have expired would be eligible for a maximum of 47 additional weeks of aid, depending on the level of unemployment within their states.

The measure is an attempt to renew expired jobless benefits to millions of economically-strapped Americans.

While it is true that joblessness overall is declining, long-term unemployment is at a historically high level.

The vote came three weeks after Republicans prevented legislation from advancing that would have renewed the expired program at reduced levels.

The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office has said extending unemployment would spur economic growth because people would have more money to spend. The CBO estimates that extending unemployment insurance would add about 200,000 jobs.

The 58-40 vote came two votes shy of the 60 needed for the measure to advance. Some Senate Republicans joined Democrats but not nearly enough.

Voters should hold lawmakers accountable for their stance on this issue.

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