WASHINGTON – U.S. House Republicans are showing no sign that they’ll move forward legislation the Senate passed restoring benefits for the long-term unemployed.
House Republican leaders “are willing to look at extending emergency unemployment insurance as long as it includes provisions to help create more private-sector jobs,” though Speaker John Boehner remains opposed to the Senate measure, Boehner spokesman Michael Steel said Monday in an emailed statement.
Senators voted 59-38 on Monday to pass the bill restoring benefits that expired late last year. It’s the product of a bipartisan agreement struck last month by Rhode Island Democrat Jack Reed and Nevada Republican Dean Heller, who was among six Republicans who voted in favor.
Sen. Charles Schumer, a New York Democrat, called on House Republican leaders to bring up the measure. “If our bill was put up for a vote in the House, there is no question it would pass,” Schumer, the third-ranking Senate Democrat, said in a statement. “The House needs to extend unemployment benefits to millions of Americans right now.”
The benefits extension is part of Democrats’ election-year focus on income inequality, which also includes a push to raise the federal minimum wage to $10.10 an hour and to pass legislation aimed at ending the gender gap in pay.
President Barack Obama has pressed lawmakers for months to reach a compromise on extending the jobless aid. The measure would be retroactive to Dec. 28, when the emergency benefits expired for about 1.6 million Americans.
Obama praised the Senate for acting “in a bipartisan way.”
“Washington needs to put politics aside and help these hard-working, responsible Americans make ends meet and support their families as they look for a job,” the president said in a statement on Monday. “I urge House Republicans to stop blocking a bipartisan compromise that would stem this tide, take up the bill without delay, and send it to my desk.”