DSCC hits Republican Senate candidates on jobless benefits

The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC) is targeting GOP Senate candidates in the battle over extending unemployment benefits.

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In a forthcoming press release obtained first by The Hill, the DSCC says that opposition from Republican candidates to the proposal to restore benefits for the estimated 1.3 million jobless workers who saw them lapse last month would signal the GOP is “stand[ing] with the Tea Party.”

“Because of Republican Senate candidates and the reckless economic agenda they have embraced, long-term jobless insurance has expired for more than 1 million Americans who have been looking for work for at least 26 weeks, denying families the crucial relief they need while costing the economy an estimated 240,000 jobs,” the DSCC release says.

“More than a million Americans looking for work are paying the price for the reckless and irresponsible political games that Republican Senate candidates are playing with the economy on behalf of their special interest backers,” said DSCC spokesman Justin Barasky. “Unemployment insurance not only provides emergency assistance to Americans looking for work, but provides a critical boost to the entire economy. While Democrats are fighting to create jobs and strengthen the middle class, GOP Senate candidates are embracing an economic agenda that is bought and paid for by the Tea Party and the Koch brothers, and they will be held accountable in 2014.”

Republicans have argued that the $6.4 billion cost to extend the program for three more months should be offset with other spending cuts. This morning, the fiscally conservative Club for Growth announced it opposes the proposed bill, co-sponsored by Sens. Jack Reed (D-R.I.) and Dean Heller (D-Nev.), unless the extension is paid for elsewhere, and that it would include tonight’s expected Senate vote on cloture on the Club's congressional scorecard.

The DSCC release offers a preview of the messaging Democrats plan to use to press Republicans on the divisive issue within the GOP as legislation advances through Congress this week. For Democrats, the political battle over unemployment insurance is a timely way to shift the conversation away from problems with ObamaCare’s implementation and paint vulnerable Republicans as unsympathetic to the plight of the unemployed in a still-recovering economy.

Democrats are defending 21 seats this year as they fight to keep the chamber in Democratic hands. Republicans, who just need six seats to flip Senate control, see a path to victory through several competitive or open GOP-leaning states, such as South Dakota, West Virginia, Montana, Arkansas, Louisiana and North Carolina.