Carney rejects GOP trade-offs for unemployment insurance

White House press secretary Jay Carney said Monday that Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) appears to be throwing "spaghetti against the wall" in an attempt to win concessions in exchange for extending emergency unemployment insurance.

Earlier this month, Boehner told reporters that it was up to the White House to propose job-creation provisions to attach to a Senate bill reauthorizing unemployment benefits if the president wanted the House to take up the legislation.

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But at the White House, Carney appeared to dismiss Boehner's call for concessions. Republican lawmakers have suggested tying to the legislation approval of the Keystone XL oil pipeline, the rollback of environmental regulations or additional tax breaks to businesses.

"What we've seen in the past in these kinds of situations generally are, you know, an attempt to throw spaghetti against the wall on sort of ideological things that have nothing to do with making sure that these benefits get to the people who need them," Carney said.

Carney insisted Congress "ought to take action" on its own.

"More Republicans have made clear their support for extension of vital unemployment insurance emergency benefits since the last time we discussed this in this room," he said. "And we continue to press Congress to take action to restore those benefits."

Earlier this month, Boehner said House Republicans would insist on some form of job-creating language in any bill extending unemployment benefits.

"Listen, I made clear to the president last December that if he wanted us to consider an extension of emergency unemployment benefits, it would have to be paid for and it would have to include things that would help get our economy going," Boehner said. "They have not put forward anything with regard to how we would create more jobs. And so the ball's still in their court."

Federal emergency benefits for long-term unemployed workers expired in December, cutting off aid to 1.3 million people. Since then, the total who have gone without benefits has risen to nearly 3 million.

The Senate passed a bill earlier this month that would reauthorize the program through May and retroactively pay those who missed benefits, earning five Republican votes. But House Republicans are unlikely to take up that legislation when they return April 28.

Carney said he did not have an update "on how that effort is progressing on Capitol Hill."

"Our position remains very clear, which is that these are benefits that should be extended," he said. 

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