UPDATE 2-U.S. Senate votes to extend jobless benefits, faces divided House

Mon Apr 7, 2014 7:40pm EDT

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* Obama urges House to 'follow suit,' pass bill

* Seven House Republicans urge leadership to help unemployed (Adds Boehner press secretary comments)

By Thomas Ferraro

WASHINGTON, April 7 (Reuters) - The Democratic-led U.S. Senate passed a bill on Monday to restore expired jobless benefits for 2.4 million Americans who have been out of work for at least six months.

President Barack Obama responded by urging the Republican-led House of Representatives to give the measure final approval so he can sign it into law. But it was unclear if it would do so.

"The Senate just took action on a bipartisan bill" to renew unemployment insurance, Obama said in a Twitter message. "It's up to the House to follow suit."

The bill, passed by the Senate 59-38, had long seemed certain to die in the House amid stiff Republican opposition. Pressure has mounted, however, for the House to help the unemployed this election year.

Shortly after the Senate vote, seven House Republicans - many from high unemployment regions or districts that are seen as competitive in the November election - wrote party leadership, asking that a House vote be held on the bill or on a similar measure.

In addition, the lead Republican sponsor of the Senate bill, Dean Heller of Nevada, said he wants to meet with House Speaker John Boehner and find a way to move the effort forward.

Boehner and other Republicans oppose the bill, saying it does not meet their demands that it include job creation provisions. Boehner has also called the measure "unworkable," citing concerns by state administrators.

But Boehner has not closed the door to some sort of help for the unemployed, and backers of the legislation argue that any problems with it on the state level can be fixed.

Boehner's press secretary, Michael Steel, said: "The speaker has said since before Christmas that we are open to looking at extending emergency UI (unemployment insurance) - as long as it is paid-for, and does something to create more private-sector jobs."

Bill backers earlier resolved the demand that it be paid for by offsetting the $10 billion cost of an extension with savings elsewhere.

The bill would restore jobless benefits for five months, retroactive to last December when they began to expire for those who have been out of work for at least six months.

The Emergency Unemployment Compensation program began in 2008. Under it, people who lose their jobs typically receive state unemployment benefits for 26 weeks. Then they are eligible for federal relief for up to an additional 47 weeks.

Congress allowed funding for the program to expire in December with lawmakers struggling since then to find a way to extend it for a 13th time.

The seven House Republicans who wrote Republican leadership, asking for relief for the unemployed, include: Mike Grimm, Chris Gibson and Peter King of New York; Jon Runyan, Christopher Smith and Frank LoBiondo of New Jersey, and Joe Heck of Nevada. (Reporting By Thomas Ferraro; Editing by Sandra Maler and Lisa Shumaker)

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Comments (3)
lahommed wrote:
It is time for the Speaker of the house to do what is right and needed by passing the Unemployment Insurance federal extension bill now! Monies were quick to go to the Ukraine…..but somehow we have a hard time taking care of our own here in America! 1 Billion tax payer dollars went to the Ukraine with little or no Accountability…but The house speaker raises all kinds of crap about extending the Unemployment Insurance for those struggling at no fault of their own! Mr speaker show some guts, balls and backbone….approve this bill and lets stop the nonsense NOW!

Apr 08, 2014 4:51pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
Obama needs to just go ahead and sign the bill without the House approval and be done with this. The unemployed have suffered and waited long enough. This is totally unnecessary for the decision to take this long. Meanwhile the US can help other countries out with billions of dollars but cannot help out their own. COME ON! Get this done for the unemployed sake. They need to eat and have a roof over their heads as well as anyone else. If this bill does not pass then what? More people turning to welfare?? Some may not have.a choice. Get it done before going on break!!!

Apr 09, 2014 9:31am EDT  --  Report as abuse
EugeneOsborne wrote:
Congress is helping everyone but Americans. Anytime another country needs help or aid the United States is there to help but when our own people in the US has problems congress and Obama looks the other way. I have never seen anything like it. John Boehnoer needs to be voted out. Anytime its about helping Americans he is into stopping it and since Obama has been in office I haven’t seen him do anything whatsoever for the Americans. I know what I see and have seen I have lived the hard life and still am. I try my hardest everyday and still struggle while I look around and see everyone own homes and cars. Since being laid off I lost the house I was buying and had to pawn everything I bought in the past just to pay bills and I am still in the same seat trying to figure out how I am going to pay my next bill. I have always worked hard and been at work everyday till I got laid off and as you get older its even harder to find a job and where is Obama and the US when I need help for everything I have done in live. NO WHERE.

Apr 10, 2014 9:34pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
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