Unemployment Extension 2014: New Senate Bill By Jack Reed And Dean Heller May Drop Retroactive Benefits

The 2014 unemployment extension bill for the Senate has gone back to the drawing board. Democratic Senator Jack Reed of Rhode Island and Republican Senator Dean Heller of Nevada are hoping to extend unemployment benefits through the rest of 2014.

In a related report by The Inquisitr, some people are claiming that Democrats have lost interest in supporting the 2014 unemployment extension bill due to the upcoming mid-term elections. In response, a new WhiteHouse.gov petition is asking President Obama to call House Speaker John Boehner about the EUC program.

Reed and Heller have been working together for several weeks now and they say that while the unemployment rate has dropped the rate for the long-term unemployed has not:

“We’re finding a lot of people who are mid-career, have worked for 20 or 30 years, and are just finding it very, very hard to get back in. And these benefits are vital for them.”

The original Senate bill was designed to extend unemployment benefits to 99 weeks through May 31, and would have also provided retroactive benefits to those who were cut off on December 28, 2013. But Heller is saying the new unemployment extension bill may not provide retroactive benefits:

“That’s hard to do at this point. It will probably be prospective. I’m guessing that we just go forward at this point. Five months of [retroactive] UI at this point, is a big, big bite of the apple. So that’s not guaranteed, but I’m telling you that we realize that we are in a bind right now trying to make it retroactive.”

The next biggest problem this unemployment extension bill faces is the jobs creation provision required by John Boehner. Heller claims it is not possible at this moment to do so and is instead asking House Republicans to create their own jobs provision so the two parts can be combined via an amendment exchange. But for the bill to reach a conference committee there needs to be interest in supporting the bill in the first place.

Republican Senator Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, who helped pass the last unemployment extension bill, claims that Heller and Reed are essentially working on their own at this point with no major involvement of others in Congress:

“Without having a direct conversation with the two guys who are trying to breathe life into it, I can’t say that it’s completely dead. … It’s not looking good right now—I guess that’s the best way to sum it up.”

Perhaps because of these difficulties Reed says they have not given a time frame for when they expect to introduce the bill in the Senate:

“We’re working on it. It’s not something we’re ignoring. … We have to look for a legislative path. We have to find the right sort of formula, literally and figuratively. And then we have to make sure that we have the necessary bipartisan support here.”

In order to receive that bipartisan support, politicians need to feel pressure from their constituents. While many petitions have failed to reach their goals, a MoveOn.org petition is still slowly gaining signatures:

What do you think about the new 2014 unemployment extension bill in the Senate potentially dropping retroactive benefits?