Boehner says he laid out conditions for jobless benefits extension

Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) said Wednesday he privately laid out conditions to the White House for extending unemployment benefits but that the administration didn't put forward a plan meeting his standards.

President Obama and congressional Democrats have pushed for renewing long-term unemployment insurance that expires this month, but the provision was left out of a budget deal negotiated by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) and Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.). The House has no plans to act on jobless benefits before it recesses for the year on Friday.

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“We’ve worked all year to help get our economy going again and help produce better jobs and more wages,” Boehner told reporters at a press conference Wednesday.

“When the White House finally called me last Friday about extending unemployment benefits, I said we would clearly consider it, as long as it’s paid for and as long as there are other efforts to help get our economy moving once again. I have not seen a plan from the White House that meets those standards.”

The White House said Wednesday it didn't need to provide a specific proposal to Boehner.

“A specific or detailed proposal, in this case, probably isn't required,” White House spokesman Josh Earnest said. “We're talking about extending a program that has been in place for several years, now. It was originally signed into law by President George W. Bush in 2008. It's been extended at least a couple of times in the last few years.”

The White House has repeatedly said that they want Congress to extend the program set, to expire at the end of the year.

About 1.3 million people will lose benefits after Dec. 28 without congressional action.

A Boehner aide said it was White House chief of staff Denis McDonough who called the Speaker on Friday, a day after Boehner criticized Obama for not putting forward a plan to extend unemployment benefits.

Some Republicans have argued the benefits aren’t needed after a November jobs report showed the economy added 204,000 jobs last month, while the unemployment rate dropped to 7 percent, the lowest rate since November 2008.

The administration did not insist that the unemployment insurance extension be included in the budget deal announced Tuesday by Murray and Ryan.

But Earnest promised the administration was not abandoning the fight, saying Obama "feels strongly" that benefits should be extended. 

He said the White House had been in contact with members of Congress on Wednesday to lobby for the deal, and that the president would "continue to advocate for this."

“There have been a few previous occasions where we've come down to the wire like this,” Earnest said. “And through the president's cajoling and advocating we've gotten some congressional action.”

This story was posted at 1:10 p.m. and updated at 2:35 p.m.