Obama urges extending unemployment benefits

President Obama called for the extension of unemployment benefits after the Senate approved a bipartisan budget deal on Wednesday. 

Obama applauded the deal as move away from “shortsighted, crisis-driven decision-making” that avoids another government shutdown. But he called it a first step, adding that unemployment insurance should be extended after it was left out of the deal.

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“Congress should pass an extension of unemployment insurance so more than a million Americans don’t lose a vital lifeline as they fight to find a job,” Obama said. 

The House approved the measure last week. Now both chambers need to approve an omnibus spending bill by mid-January to avoid a government shutdown.

Obama gave approval to a bill sponsored by Sens. Jack Reed (D-R.I.) and Dean Heller (R-Nev.) that would extend jobless aid for three months. 

The president noted how significant the deal was after years of gridlock. 

“I’m pleased that with tonight’s vote in the Senate. For the first time in years, both parties in both houses of Congress have come together to pass a budget,” he said. 

The deal will allow the country to make further investment in education and research, Obama said, after rolling back parts of the sequester. The deal replaces $63 billion in sequestration cuts over the next two years and sets the top-line budget number just above $1 trillion in each of the next two years. 

“All told, it’s a good first step away from the shortsighted, crisis-driven decision-making that has only served to act as a drag on our economy,” he said.  “It helps chart our economic course for the next two years, which means that the American people won’t be exposed to another painful and unwise government shutdown.”

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