Ayotte offers pay-for amendment to UI bill

Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.) offered and amendment to the unemployment insurance extension bill that would raise $20 billion over 10 years.

Ayotte was one of six Republicans who joined Democrats in advancing the bill in a procedural vote Tuesday. But she said she wants a vote on her amendment that would pay for the $6.4 billion three-month extension. 

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On Dec. 28, 1.3 million people lost their long-term unemployment benefits. Sen. Jack Reed (D-R.I.) introduced S. 1845, the Emergency Unemployment Compensation Extension Act, which restores those benefits for three months. His bill isn’t offset, but he said it would give lawmakers time to come up with a longer-term solution that is paid for.

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

Ayotte said the Senate should vote on her amendment because it goes after “egregious” fraud. Her amendment would raise $20 billion in revenue by closing a tax loophole.

“This simple fix would require a Social Security number with anyone claiming a child on their tax return,” Ayotte said on the Senate floor Tuesday. “It would save $20 billion over the next 10 years.”

Ayotte’s amendment would use $6.4 billion of that saving for unemployment insurance and another $6 billion to restore cuts made to the cost-of-living adjustment for military retiree benefits. She said an addition $7 billion would go toward deficit reduction.

Ayotte said the government would lose $20 billion over the next 10 years because people are fraudulently claiming to have children on their tax returns. She said people get away with it because the tax form doesn’t require a Social Security number for the child being claimed.

She demanded that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) allow a vote on her “commonsense” amendment.

Reid said he was willing to look at various ideas on how to pay for the extension.