An unemployment extension in 2014 appeared less and less likely this week as an attempt by a lone Republican senator to tie the unemployment benefits extension to a massive corporate tax cut bill fizzled out on Capitol Hill.
Nevada Senator Dean Heller has been a lone Republican voice pushing for the extension of unemployment benefits into 2014, co-sponsoring a bill that would pay the benefits through the end of May, retroactive to December 29 when unemployment benefits were suddenly cut off when Congress failed to vote on extending them.
Unemployment Extension Bill Passed Senate In April
That bill passed the Democratic-controlled Senate in early April, but the Republican-led House of Representatives has so far refused to bring the Heller unemployment extension to a vote in 2014. Originally, Republicans said that the cost of any unemployment extension must be covered by offsetting budget cuts — a provision neither they nor Democrats have demanded for the corporate tax cut bill.
The 2014 unemployment extension bill co-sponsored by Heller and Rhode Island Senator Jack Reid accomplished that. But then House Speaker John Boehner said that the unemployment extension must be accompanied by “jobs creation” bill, which he has not specified.
$85 Billion Corporate Tax Cut Bill Up For Vote This Week
This week, the Senate is considering and is all but certain to pass an $85 billion tax cut package for large corporations. Heller earlier announced his intention to attach the unemployment extension bill as an amendment to that bill — a common practice in Congress — forcing Republicans to approve both or neither.
But Heller said Wednesday that he has given up on that initiative because Democrats who control the Senate, despite having passed the unemployment extension and strongly supporting extended unemployment benefits, do not want to attach the measure to the corporate tax cut bill.
Unemployment Extension Will Not be Tied To Tax Cuts
“That’s not going to happen,” Heller said, in an interview with The Washington Examiner. “There just isn’t the appetite I had expected on the Left to address the issue.”
According to Heller, Senate Democrats have not allowed an amendment to any tax cutting measure in the past three years.
“I’ve been told we are not going to this time, either,” he said.
But a spokesperson for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid — who also represents Nevada — said that the possibility of attaching the 2014 unemployment extension to the corporate tax cut bill — referred to as a package of tax cut “extenders” — remains open.
“Nothing has been ruled out on the extenders bill, but anyone who wants to pass unemployment insurance should be focused on pressuring Speaker Boehner, who has the Senate-passed bill sitting in his lap,” said Reid’s press rep Adam Jentleson.
Heller told The Las Vegas Review-Journal that he continues to look for another bill that would be a good fit to take the 2014 unemployment extension as an amendment.