What Were Some Issues With the Extended Unemployment Bill of 2014?


Quick Answer

Some issues with the 2014 Unemployment Bill were that it was unfunded, Republicans insisted it be offset by increased revenue or budget cuts, and it originally provided retroactive benefits. Over a million workers were without benefits when the extension expired.

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Full Answer

Unemployed workers can normally collect Federal Unemployment benefits for 26 weeks, after which their benefits expire. An emergency measure that extended benefits until the end of 2013 was set to expire on December 28, and the Senate sought to pass another extension. They focused on a bill that added a three-month extension at a cost of $6.4 billion that was paid for with what was essentially an accounting trick.

When Majority Leader Harry Reid refused to let Republicans add funding amendments, they started a filibuster that the Democrats were unable to override, and the unemployment extension expired, leaving 1.3 million unemployed workers without benefits. The work of a few dedicated senators cooperating in a bipartisan manner resurrected the bill, forged a compromise and gained Senate passage for the extension six months later, at which point it went to the House of Representatives.

Unfortunately, the House insisted that a revenue increase accompany any spending increase. Since the bill did not satisfy this demand, it was never put up for discussion. Despite the spirit of cooperation that had triumphed in the Senate, the bill died. This increased the perception of the House Republicans as insensitive to the needs of the working-class.

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