Unemployment Extension 2014: John Boehner Spurns Plea From GOP Senator Dean Heller

The 2014 unemployment benefits extension plan which passed the U.S. Senate earlier this month has faced a roadblock from Republican House Speaker John Boehner, who refuses to bring the Senate bill to a vote in the House.

But on Tuesday, Boehner heard a plea from a fellow Republican who supports an extension to unemployment benefits in 2014 — and came away unmoved. Nevada GOP Senator Dean Heller, who voted in favor of the unemployment extension in the Senate, calling the measure, “not just important for Nevada, but for the entire country,” held a one-on-one conversation with Boehner April 29, only to meet with more frustration.

Under the Senate bill, the unemployment extension would run only through the end of May 2014, so every day that goes by with no action on the bill creates a risk that the unemployment extension will simply die without so much as a vote in the House.

“That’s a concern,” said Heller. “We need to get this retroactively done to help these families that need the money.”

Nevada’s 8.5 percent unemployment rate is the third-highest in the country.

Heller himself authored the Senate unemployment extension bill along with Democrat Jack Reed of Rhode Island. House Republicans had demanded that any unemployment extension must be paid for by cuts elsewhere.

Heller and Reed crafted legislation that pays for the unemployment extension by changing pension laws and Customs fees. But even though the bill meets the House Republican requirement, Boehner Tuesday still turned away Heller’s pitch to “move this legislation. It’s important that we get this done.”

“The Speaker spoke by telephone with Sen. Heller today, and told him the same thing he has told the White House since before Christmas: We’re willing to look at a plan that is paid-for and includes something to help create jobs. Unfortunately Senator Reid ruled out adding jobs provisions,” said Boehner press rep Michael Steel.

House Republicans themselves, however, have not proposed any job creation measures to go along with an unemployment extension.

While people who become jobless through no fault of their own are still eligible for an initial tier of benefits, usually 26 weeks, an unemployment benefits extension for job seekers who have been thwarted in their efforts for longer than that initial 26 week period was abruptly cut off in mid-stream on December 28, as neither the House or Senate voted on continuing the benefits extension into 2014.

The Senate bill passed in April would reinstate those benefits to the point where they were cut off, as well as continuing the 2014 unemployment extension through May.