Democrats and Republicans Working Together

Unemployment Extension 2014: Republicans Working On New Insurance Benefits Bill With Democrats

The 2014 unemployment extension battle has some Democrats and Republicans attempting to work together to find a middle ground solution, but House Speaker John Boehner and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid seemed to have entrenched their positions. So at this point, the question might be: where does the cutoff line belong for receiving unemployment benefits?

In a related report by The Inquisitr, an unemployment extension petition is asking President Obama to intervene on behalf of the unemployed. Unfortunately, tying corporate tax breaks to the unemployment extension did not work out for the Republicans as they’d hoped. It’s also been reported that President Obama failed to call Boehner and ask him to allow a vote on the unemployment extension in the House.

Part of the problem is that the version of the bill passed by the Senate in early April would have extended benefits to June 1, 2014. At this point, that is a week and a half away, so most likely a new version would have to be created and voted upon once again. Republican Senator Susan Collins says that if nothing happens with the current legislation, then a new unemployment extension bill may become more unlikely:

“I’m worried. Because with each passing day, it’s going to become more difficult to reinstate the program. And in the meantime, we’re going to start seeing another wave of individuals who will lose their benefits.”

When the original unemployment extension ended in December of 2013, it cut off about 1.3 million Americans. But every week, about 72,000 new people reach the limits of their unemployment benefits, which normally lasts around 26 weeks depending on various calculations. The unemployment insurance extension pushed that out to 73 weeks, depending on the state, but according to the Bureau of LaborStatistics, there are now 3.5 million people who have been jobless for more than 26 weeks.

The good news is that as of last week Republican Senator Dean Heller is working on a new unemployment package with Democratic Senator Jack Reed. They’re hoping to lure more Republicans to the negotiation table by adding Boehner’s demand for job creation measures and by adding reforms like cracking down on people drawing both disability and unemployment benefits. There’s also talk about adding retroactive unemployment benefits to pay those who were cut off back in December.

But the bad news train keeps on chugging ahead, because Heller says there’s been little progress in working with House leaders. He also says the long term problem of finding everyone a job is dependent upon education and training:

“For the long-term unemployed, it’s much worse than previous recessions … these are precisely the people that will benefit. What we’re finding with the long-term unemployed: It’s a skills gap. Even though they’ve worked for 20 or 30 years, they just don’t have the skills that employers look for.”

What do you think would be a good middle ground solution for a 2014 unemployment extension bill?