WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Senator Joe Manchin said Tuesday there must be a way to pay for the reinstatement of extended unemployment benefits.
Both Manchin and U.S. Senator Jay Rockefeller voted with the majority Tuesday to continue the discussions about reinstating the benefits that were cut-off for the longest unemployed Americans at the end of 2013. A final vote in the Senate could come in a few days.
Manchin told reporters during a conference call Tuesday afternoon that extending the benefits for three more months would cost $6.5 billion and a full-year extension would have a $26 billion price tag. He said that can’t go on without a way to finance it.
“You can’t continue to kick the can down the road. (Some say) ‘Don’t worry about paying for it,’ Well, I do worry about paying for it. Because I worry about my kids inheriting the debt that we’re all going to create for them,” Manchin said.
Approximately 7,000 state residents lost the benefits when Congress failed to renew last month.
Sen. Rockefeller said the benefits are a safety net for families and should be reinstated.
“While our economy continues to improve, it should be a top priority to put forward sensible policies that can both stimulate growth and provide critical support to people as they pursue job opportunities,” Rockefeller said in a prepared release. “Supporting West Virginians while they are actively looking for work is a moral obligation and Congress never should have let emergency unemployment insurance expire.”
Manchin said he continues to look for ways to pay for the extension including the possibility of eliminating the double payments some laid-off residents receive.
“It’s the dual eligibility,” Manchin said. “When you have a person that is hurt on the job and is receiving disability Social Security and also receiving unemployment benefits—if that were eliminated, that would be about a $5 billion savings,” Manchin said. “I believe most Americans would think that is reasonable.”
Manchin said he’s already told Democratic leaders that he in no way would support any future extensions if the economy is the same or better at the end of the next 90 days.
“I think that it’s time that we have to continue to get back to regular order,” Manchin said.