Senator Jack Reed says he’s pleased a bill he co-sponsored to extend unemployment benefits for 90 days has moved forward in the Senate on a procedural vote. And he’d like to see it continue to move forward without having to negotiate how to pay for it. But Reed says he’s open on that point.
Here in Reed’s home state, unemployment hovers around nine percent, one of the highest rates in the nation. Securing an emergency extension of unemployment benefits would help thousands of his constituents. But it might not be so easy to secure. House Republicans are insisting on finding a way to offset the more than $6 billion dollar cost of the extension by cutting something else from the budget. Reed says he’d consider a few options, like tax loopholes.
“Some of these tax provisions that actually not only deprive the government of revenue," said Reed during a press conference carried by C-SPAN, "but also help deploy jobs overseas when we need jobs here. But there are a whole list of not only tax loopholes but other things that we could consider.”
Reed recalled that at the beginning of 2013, Republicans helped pass a one-year extension of unemployment benefits without cutting something else from the budget. But this bill, to give the long-term unemployed three more months of benefits, still faces an uncertain future.
Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse also released a statement on the bill's progress today, thanking Reed for his efforts.
“Even with the worst of the recession behind us, too many Rhode Islanders have been unable to find work," said Whitehouse.
The statement noted that the Senate will now continue to debate the three-month extension, with a final vote likely in the days ahead. It must still go to the House.
Whitehouse's office noted that, on December 28, "federal emergency unemployment benefits expired for approximately 4,900 people in Rhode Island. Over the coming months, an additional 8,900 Rhode Islanders will not be eligible to receive extended weeks of unemployment benefits as their regular unemployment benefits expire if an extension is not signed into law."