Huffington Post — The House of Representatives has left town for Christmas vacation, making it all but certain that unemployed workers will lose their federal benefits on Dec. 28, as they are currently scheduled to do.
But if you think that 1.3 million longterm jobless Americans taking a financial hit would be a hot topic for the lawmakers still in town, you’d be wrong. Senate Democrats have conceded they’ll miss the deadline to extend the benefits and have begun hatching plans to renew them retroactively in the new year. Senate Republicans don’t seem to have given much thought to the matter at all.
On Friday, The Huffington Post asked a number of Republican senators whether there have been discussions within their caucus about the expiring unemployment insurance.
“None,” said Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.). “There has been no discussion. It has never come up.”
“I haven’t heard any discussions yet,” said Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.).
“It is not in the budget so I don’t expect that it is going to come up,” said Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine).
“I think we need to look at it. I’d like some more information,” said Sen. John Boozman (R-Ark.). “But there really hasn’t been any discussion.”
Meanwhile, the Senate Democrats’ plan — at least as of Friday — is to reauthorize the benefits after they’ve expired. Workers would receive lump-sum checks for any missed weeks of insurance, as they have several times in recent years. But Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) hasn’t been specific about how he plans to make that happen.
Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) suggested he’ll use his support for the compromise budget bill next week as leverage to push for a future extension of unemployment insurance. Harkin and other Democrats have bitterly complained that the benefits were omitted from the budget deal.