Reid begs GOP to allow 3-month UI extension

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) pleaded with Republicans Wednesday to help pass a three-month extension of long-term unemployment benefits.

Republicans have complained that the $6.4 billion bill isn’t paid for with offsets. Several GOP senators have introduced amendments that would offset the cost, but Reid said those proposals aren’t serious because they would harm Americans by delaying the implementation of ObamaCare.

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Reid said the extension needed to be passed quickly without debate on pay-fors to help the 1.3 million who lost their unemployment benefits on Dec. 28. He said then lawmakers could work on a longer-term solution that is fully offset.

“I’m oppose to offsetting emergency unemployment benefits,” Reid said on the Senate floor.

Republicans have criticized Reid for refusing to allow any amendments.

“If the Majority Leader wants this bill to pass the Senate, then he's likely going to have to find a way to pay for it,” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said. “If Democrats truly want to get anything done this year, they are going to have to learn how to work with us.”

Democrats have used the push for federal unemployment benefits as part of an effort highlighting income inequality. The party hopes the issue can attract voters ahead of a midterm election in which Democrats are worried about losing the Senate.

Reid said it would be “difficult” for Republicans to appear “sympathetic” toward the unemployed if they oppose S. 1845, the Emergency Unemployment Compensation Extension Act.

Later Wednesday, the Senate is expected to pass a motion to proceed to the bill and debate it for the rest of the week. But Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) said the House wouldn't consider a measure that wasn't fully paid for, even if it was just a short-term extension.