CHARLESTON, W.Va. — All indications are House Speaker John Boehner (R-Oh.) will not make the restoration of extended unemployment benefits a priority issue for the U.S. House of Representatives in the weeks ahead, but a Republican candidate for Congress in West Virginia’s Third District says the extension needs to be addressed.
“I would be a member of the Republican caucus who would stand up and say, ‘We need to extend these benefits,'” said state Senator Evan Jenkins (R-Cabell, 5) on Monday’s MetroNews “Talkline.”
“That’s what this benefit is. It is for people who have been put out of work, for no fault of their own, and we have seen that, unfortunately, chapter and verse, here in West Virginia.”
Emergency unemployment compensation (EUC) is the federally mandated program for people who have exhausted their regular unemployment benefits but still have not found jobs. Nearly three million people nationally, including more than 7,000 in West Virginia, have lost those long-term benefits since the latest extension expired on Dec. 28, 2013.
“For these coal miners and others who have been penalized by this anemic economy and the war on coal, (they) should be allowed extended benefits until we can get this economy going and get the coal industry out from under the attack that’s being waged against it,” said Jenkins who has been an advocate for responsible government spending. He said the EUC extension falls into that category.
“I’m for doing what is right. We can find, within our federal government, the money. About $20 billion is the expected fiscal note for the extension of this benefit. It’s a big number, but it’s certainly manageable,” Jenkins said.
Third District Congressman Nick Rahall (D-W.Va.), the incumbent Jenkins will likely face in the November General Election, also supports extending the long-term unemployment benefits that were first implemented after the recession in 2008.
The U.S. Senate approved an extension that would last through May 31 earlier this year. Republican leaders in the U.S. House, though, have opted not to take up the measure.
Jenkins’ appearance on Monday’s MetroNews “Talkline” is part of a series of interviews Hoppy Kercheval is conducting with the statewide candidates leading up to the May 13 Primary Election and Nov. 6 General Election. Early voting for West Virginia’s primary election begins this week.