Portman: UI must be paid for

Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) said he wanted to make sure the unemployment insurance extension is paid for before he’ll support final passage.

Portman was one of six Republicans who joined Democrats in advancing the bill in a procedural vote Tuesday. But he said after the vote that increasing the deficit was not something he would support.

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“How ironic would it be if we said we were going to help the unemployed by harming getting our economy moving,” Portman said on the Senate floor Tuesday. “I’m going to offer an amendment to make sure we pay for this.”

Portman said he took Democrats at their word that they would allow debate and amendments to the $6.4 billion three-month extension of long-term unemployment benefits.

Democrats will need at least five Republicans to vote with them to end debate on the measure, possibly later this week. Sen. Dean Heller (R-Nev.) is the only Republican cosponsoring S. 1845, the Emergency Unemployment Compensation Extension Act.

Many Republicans have complained that the legislation isn’t offset by spending cuts.

Portman said he would offer several amendments, one of which is an idea directly from President Obama’s budget. He said one of his amendments would ensure that people drawing Social Security disability benefits couldn’t qualify for long-term unemployment payments as well.

Portman joined Senate Minority Whip John Cornyn (R-Texas) in criticizing the administration for not implementing “pro-growth” policies such as tax reductions for businesses and eliminating regularity burdens.