Unemployment Benefits On Hold As Congressional Leaders Leave Washington

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid discusses extending unemployment insurance benefits/ Photo courtesy of Senate Democrats

Congressional leaders left Washington late last week after passing the omnibus but before they restored unemployment aid to jobless workers.

Indeed, the first few weeks of 2014 were filled with discussions about whether congressional leaders would reinstate unemployment insurance benefits as emergency benefits expired at the end of December for 1.3 million out-of-work Americans. And, to the disappointment of many, lawmakers left Washington on Friday for a 10-day recess without reaching a deal to extend those benefits.

An agreement has been delayed because Republicans and Democrats are at odds over how exactly to restore benefits. Republicans would like to see a three-month extension paid for elsewhere in the budget, which comes at a price tag of $6.5 billion. Democrats, on the other hand, would like benefits to be reinstated without paying for them, as Congress has done many times in the past. The latest reports showed that Democrats were willing to find an offset, but no deal was made before Congress left town last week. 

What do the American people think? A recent survey by the National Employment Law Project and Hart Research Associates finds 55 percent of voters want Congress to extend unemployment insurance benefits. 

Now is the perfect time to make your preferences known before Congress returns next week and resumes negotiations. Make sure your voice is heard.