Pelosi attacks GOP argument on benefits as 'insult' to workers

Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) on Thursday criticized Republicans who contend extending unemployment benefits creates a disincentive for the jobless to find work. 

"To those who say that unemployment is a disincentive to work, I say that's an insult to working people in our country," she said, adding, "I reject that misrepresentation."

Republicans such as Senate Minority Whip Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) have reportedly said unemployment benefits dissuade job hunting because would-be workers get paid for simply collecting a check instead of working at least eight hours a day at a full-time job.

Sen. Jack Reed (D-R.I.) recently noted that jobless workers gross approximately $360 per week from unemployment and that taxes are taken out of that amount. He contends this does not provide much incentive to stay on the dole. 

"Anyone who says $360 a week that is taxed is a disincentive doesn't know what they are talking about," he said.

Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) highlighted that for each job opening there are five potential hires, which is an improvement from roughly a year ago. 

"That was six until a few months ago," she said. "So we are turning a corner. We know that when the president took office we were losing 750,000 jobs a month and we are now gaining —not as much as we want — but we are gaining. But there are too many people who are caught in this."

The Senate on Wednesday failed for a fourth time to extend unemployment benefits largely because Republicans oppose providing the relief without paying for its $33 billion cost. 

The House is slated to vote on another iteration of extending benefits later Thursday, which Pelosi expects will pass. 

But with the Senate adjourned for the July 4th recess, that measure will not be taken up in that chamber until after the break. 

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) expects to have another vote on extending benefits after a replacement is named for Sen. Robert Byrd (D-W.Va.), who died earlier this week. 

"We will vote on this measure again once there is a replacement named for the late Sen. Byrd," Reid said. "In the meantime, I sincerely hope that Republicans will finally listen to the millions of unemployed Americans who need this assistance to support their families in these rough times."

Senate Republicans have repeatedly offered to extend unemployment benefits and pay for its cost. The measures have failed to garner much support from Democrats. 

"The only reason the unemployment extension hasn't passed is because Democrats simply refuse to pass a bill that doesn't add to the debt," Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said on Wednesday. "That's it. That's the only difference between what they've offered and what we've offered."