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Monday, October 24, 2016

Nearly three months after federal unemployment benefits expired for over a million Americans nationwide, House Speaker John Boehner’s excuse for refusing to take up a bill to renew the federal Emergency Unemployment Compensation (EUC) program is falling apart.

When Senate Democrats and five Republicans struck a deal that would reauthorize the EUC program for five months and retroactively pay the benefits that expired on December 28, Speaker Boehner immediately dismissed the bill.

Citing a letter from the National Association of State Workforce Agencies (NASWA) — the state agencies that distribute the unemployment checks — Boehner argued that extending unemployment benefits would be too “difficult” and “unworkable,” due to the complications involved in ensuring that beneficiaries were actually looking for work during the proceeding three months.

Abandoning the House’s continuous claims that an extension would hinder job creation and dissuade long-term unemployed Americans from seeking employment, the Speaker argued that “the Senate bill would be costly, difficult to administer, and difficult to determine an individual’s eligibility.”

The bottom line, according to Boehner:  “This could increase the likelihood of fraud and abuse.”

NASWA president Mark Henry, however, is now clarifying that the organization does not endorse a particular position on whether or not the bill should proceed. As Politico reports, Henry says that some in Washington had “conflated” the concerns mentioned in NASWA’s letter.

“The letter that I wrote did not label the legislation ‘unworkable’; that was Speaker Boehner’s word,” Henry said, distancing himself from the Speaker’s stance.

Also, as The New York Times points out, state agencies managed to overcome that same “difficulty” back in 2010, when benefits were renewed after a lapse.

Even others in the GOP are not buying Boehner’s excuse, which seeks to appease House Republicans, who, for the most part, oppose an extension of the EUC program.

According to Politico, Senator Rob Portman, a powerful Republican also from Ohio, shot back at Boehner, saying he understands the “concern” over implementation, “but it’s been done before.”

“We’re eager to hear [the House’s] ideas as to how it could be implemented more effectively,” he added.

Portman was not alone in speaking out against the House’s opposition to the program’s renewal.

“There’s a lot of things that the Speaker doesn’t like that we do over here,” says Republican senator Lisa Murkowski of Alaska. “What we have out there is a fair proposal.”

Senator Mark Kirk (R-IL) also spoke out, describing the deal as a “good compromise that takes care of people who are running out of their checks and does it in a way that is paid for appropriately.”

Photo: Gage Skidmore via Flickr

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  • TZToronto

    It’s interesting that the Republicans are always so concerned about fraud–voting fraud and UI fraud, not to mention welfare fraud and food stamp fraud. Could this be a classic case of projection? Perhaps they realize that if they were in a position to commit fraud in these areas, they would. They are also afflicted with an inability to imagine what it would be like if they were in need of assistance. . . . One can only hope that those Republicans who are actually in need of the various benefits that the GOP leadership is so bent on denying will realize that it’s their GOP brethren that are making their kids go to bed hungry every night. But I’m not holding my breath on that one.

    • Sand_Cat

      Well said: it’s clear the GOPers assume that we’re all as ruthless as they are, if not more, just lazier.

      • kasia54

        Very well stated comments. Projection — my thoughts exactly — just because THEY robbed we Americans of our livelihoods with their shady corporate welfare deals and wars funded on lies, doesn’t mean the rest of Americans are as devious. All we want is to put gas in our cars, turn our internet back on, get our phones working so we can continue our job searches in earnest. Atone for your sins, you cowards — pass the UI and give us a chance. You’ve got piles of money — how does this affect your stash?

  • Sand_Cat

    The bottom line – though I’m sure it’s not the bottom of how low the GOP can go – is that they are going to starve these unfortunate people if they can. There should be more than enough of them out there to turn at least the Senate elections decisively to the Dems, but will they?

  • Daniel Jones

    Allow me to translate; he doesn’t want to work.

    • Lynda Groom

      Exactly. Boehner says the Senate plan is ‘unworkable’ and yet he offers nothing as an alternative. Obviously the House republicans have nothing of value to offer except yelling NO at every suggestion that comes down the pike. Worthless takers each and every one of them.

  • Dominick Vila

    The Republicans opposition to extending unemployment benefits, while claiming the economy is still a mess, and their refusal to consider raising the minimum wage, is consistent with their core values which start and end with what is best for the elite and corporations which, after all, are people too.
    How long and what will it take for mainstream Americans to realize how damaging their policy proposals and stances are? They could not be more obvious when it comes to protecting the interests of the wealthy, even when doing so hurts our most vulnerable citizens and brings income inequality to the breaking point.
    A cursory analysis of their position on issues such as these would reveal that what Mitt Romney so eloquently said, most Republicans could care less about the poor and the middle class. Their top priority is to protect and advance the interests of their wealthy donors.

    • dpaano

      Unfortunately, Dominick, they’ve managed to brainwash those people who have little time to watch the news or read a newspaper. They get their info from other low-educated or low-informed individuals, and nine times out of ten, it’s wrong! Maybe we need to do some “sky writing” to get them to read the writing on the wall……!! Hey, it’s an idea!

    • ORAXX

      I’ve pretty well given up on mainstream America ever catching on. As long as most of the people who insist on calling themselves conservatives get told what they want to hear about God, guns, and gays, they will go right on voting Republican, regardless of how badly they get screwed over.

    • iamproteus

      “Their top priority is to protect and advance the interests of their wealthy donors”……..and by extension, themselves..

  • howa4x

    Boehner is running scared from the tealiban that has enough votes to remove him as speaker. He is also feeling comfortable that the house majority will stay the same due to gerrymandering. Outside groups like Freedom works, a Koch sponsored organization are against any program that helps people. they think everyone should take all the minimum wage jobs out there and be happy. Problem is of course there isn’t enough of them either. One day the tea party will wake up to the fact that it is being used as battering ram against the social network by billionaires with agendas of limited government. The real agenda of people like the Koch’s is to use the social agenda as the fairy tale where hard working Americans can vent their rage while the real agenda is to loosen environmental safeguards so they can drill with no oversight and pollute with no responsibility for the health of the people around the wells.
    It won’t change till the relatives of tea party members become sick from drinking the water from polluted wells. That may be wishful thinking on my part since there has been no tea party push for stronger environmental safeguards in NC where the coal ash spill will end fishing in the Dan river.

    • Barbara Morgan

      Tea party politicians are not being used a battering ram they are the ones doing the battering and happy to do it. They don’t care what harm they do to the people that voted them in all they want is that donor (owner) money they get from the Koch Brothers and company.

  • dpaano

    As I’ve said before…..Republicans don’t seem to realize that a lot of the money from unemployment insurance (which we paid for, by the way) goes to pay for gas to get to interviews, internet time, clothes to wear to interviews, babysitting (so you can go to an interview, etc.) For some reason, they don’t seem to realize that it COSTS MONEY to look for a job…..without unemployment insurance, many people will HAVE to sit home and survive somehow! It’s sad that these politicians don’t seem to have a logical bone in their heads!!

    • Barbara Morgan

      Republicans realize this and they do it because if someone is having to fight to survive they are sure that these people won’t vote against them in November,because they will be to bust fighting to keep their families fed, clothed and a roof over their head. If they can cause thousands and thousands to be homeless when the November election happens that is better for them. If you don’t have an address you can’t get a the state issued picture ID that many states especially red states demand now, so you lose your Constitutional right to vote and that is fine and dandy as far as Republican and Tea party politicans care.

  • highpckts

    Way too costly to reinstate? How costly was the 53 votes to repeal Obamacare? How costly was Issa’s “investigations” into non existent scandals such as Benghazi, IRS, etc.? Asshats!!

    • iamproteus

      They have priorities, doncha know? The fact that their priorities trump yours is immaterial, irrelevant and shouldn’t concern you in the least.

  • John Boehner

    I hate John Boehner