Unemployment extension still pending on Capitol Hill

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. Senate could vote again as early as this week on a reworked proposal to reinstate the long-term unemployment benefits that expired at the close of 2013 for about a million Americans, including an estimated 6,900 West Virginians.

If the bill makes it to the U.S. House, First District Congressman David McKinley (R-WV) said he will support it, as long as it comes with a way to pay for it.

“As a matter of policy, I’m okay with extending it, if it’s paid for,” said McKinley.  “You just can’t keep passing this obligation on to our future generations so that they have to pay for this.”

Last week, the full Senate approved a procedural move to allow for debate on the extension.

Then, answering objections from Republicans, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) replaced the original version of the extension bill, a three-month, $6 billion extension with no funding source, with a ten-month extension that would be fully funded.

However, the bill’s movement stalled when Reid said Republicans would not be allowed to offer amendments to the legislation.

McKinley said a lot of people depended on the unemployment payments they’re no longer receiving.

“It’s not all their fault (they’re unemployed).  The economy is very soft because of the lack of regulatory reform.  The tax structure is broken.  There are a series of things that these people are victims of as a result of this economy and this administration,” he said.

House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) has indicated opposition to the extension that expired at the end of last year.  It provided a maximum of 47 weeks of emergency unemployment compensation (EUC) once an unemployed worker had reached the limits of state-funded benefits.  In West Virginia, the state covers 26 weeks.

The extended benefits were first implemented in 2008 following the recession.

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