House Republicans today blocked a Democratic attempt to hold a vote on the clean bipartisan payroll tax cut extension that passed the Senate last week, shutting down C-Span’s cameras in an attempt to hide their obstruction. The GOP has refused to hold an up-or-down vote on the Senate’s bill, instead preferring its own version of the legislation that is loaded down with unrelated policy riders.
But more than the payroll tax cut is at stake in this debate. Without an extension, unemployment benefits will expire in the new year for millions of Americans, as the National Employment Law Project details in a new report:
If Congress fails to reauthorize the federal UI programs, up to 1.8 million workers will lose benefits by the end of January. Up to 1.1 million additional people will lose this crucial lifeline in February, meaning that by the end of this two‐month period, more than 2.8 million people and their families will be without benefits they otherwise would have received had the House of Representatives passed the Senate’s bipartisan bill.
House Republicans have approved a bill that would dramatically limit unemployment benefits, even though there have been more than four job seekers for every available position for 34 straight months. The GOP bill would knock more than three million currently eligible Americans out of the program.
Failure to extend benefits would suck more $50 billion out of the economy in the first quarter of next year. A recent study even rebutted the conservative contention that those on unemployment benefits are less likely to find work. And as more and more attention gets lavished on the payroll tax cut, the fate of benefits for these jobless Americans also hangs in the balance.