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Debt issues rise to top during unemployment benefits debate

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) had strong words for his Republican colleagues who spent the afternoon arguing that Democratic policies have put the country into a strained budgetary position. 

"We will continue on a short-term basis, we are going to continue to give you help,"Hoyer said. 

Rep. Charles BoustanyCharles William BoustanyDems face hard choice for State of the Union response Americans worried about retirement should look to employee ownership Top Lobbyists 2017: Hired Guns MORE (R-La.), leading GOP floor debate, said "there is a better way to do this and that is to pay for this extension."

When Boustany praised the cooperation between Republicans and Democrats to draw down budget deficits, leading to an eventual surplus during the Clinton administration, Hoyer walked back to the microphone and asked why that type of work didn't continue while President George W. Bush was in office. 

During the debate over an extension of unemployment benefits Republicans have argued reducing the federal government's debt should be a top priority. 

With the nation's unemployment rate at 9.5 percent, Democrats have urged treating the bill as emergency spending. 

Senate Republicans balked at the idea, suggested the use of unspent stimulus money, and held up the bill for more than six weeks while as many as 350,000 people a week lost benefits. 

The measure passed the Senate on Wednesday night 59-39 with two Republicans — Sens. Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsMcConnell: 'Whoever gets to 60 wins' on immigration GOP senators turning Trump immigration framework into legislation Longtime Clinton confidant blames Comey for 2016 loss MORE and Olympia Snowe of Maine — supporting the measure. 

The bill, which is expected to be signed quickly by President Obama, provides up to 99 weeks of benefits in the states with the highest unemployment rates. The long-term jobless in every state are eligible for the benefits once state benefits run out after 26 weeks. 

Lawmakers will face the question again November, when this bill expires, on whether to provide another extension, for how long and if there's a way to pay for it. 

One of the largest problems facing the economy is a lack of job creation — again with each party blaming the other for the economy's issues. 

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke told the House Financial Services Committee on Thursday, "In all likelihood, a significant amount of time will be required to restore the nearly 8 1/2 million jobs that were lost over 2008 and 2009."

The Fed expects the unemployment rate to remain above 9 percent and possibly between 9.2 and 9.5 percent through the end of 2010. 

"Moreover, nearly half of the unemployed have been out of work for more than six months. Long-term unemployment not only imposes exceptional near-term hardships on workers and their families, it also erodes skills and may have long-lasting effects on workers' employment and earnings prospects."

On today's bill there were 31 Republicans supporting and 10 Democrats opposing. 

The 10 Democrats opposing, including nine members of 54-member fiscally conservative Blue Dog Coalition, were:  Reps. Marion Berry (Ark.), Baron Hill (Ind.), Heath Shuler (N.C.), Bobby Bright (Ala.), Jim Cooper (Tenn.) Glenn Nye, (Va.), Betsy Markey (Colo.), Walt Minnick (Idaho) and Mike McIntyre (N.C.).

Rep. Brian Baird (D-Wash.) is the only Democratic lawmaker voting against the measure who isn't a Blue Dog. 

For Republicans, six members of the Florida delegation and four from Michigan and Pennsylvania backed the bill. 

There were 31 Republicans voting for the measure: Reps. Brian Bilbray (Calif.), Gus Bilirakis (Fla.), Mary Bono Mack (Calif.), Ahn "Joseph" Cao (La.), Shelley Moore CapitoShelley Wellons Moore CapitoConway freezing out experts, relying on political staff in drug policy office: report Republican agenda clouded by division Fractured GOP struggles with immigration strategy MORE (W.Va.), Michael Castle (Del.), Charlie Dent (Pa.), Lincoln Diaz-Balart (Fla.), Mario Diaz-Balart (Fla.), Vern Ehlers (Mich.), Jim GerlachJames (Jim) GerlachFormer reps: Increase support to Ukraine to deter Russia With Trump and GOP Congress, job creators can go on offense Big names free to lobby in 2016 MORE (Pa.), Dean HellerDean Arthur HellerHeller campaign slams GOP rival over six-figure nonprofit salary Juan Williams: Help Trump climb down from the wall GOP Senate candidate fundraising lags behind Dems in key races MORE (Nev.), Tim JohnsonTimothy (Tim) Peter JohnsonCourt ruling could be game changer for Dems in Nevada Bank lobbyists counting down to Shelby’s exit Former GOP senator endorses Clinton after Orlando shooting MORE (Ill.), Walter Jones (N.C.), Steve LaTourette (Ohio), Frank LoBiondo (N.Y.), Don Manzullo (Ill.), Thad McCotter (Mich.), Tim Murphy (Pa.), Tom PetriThomas (Tom) Evert PetriBreak the cycle of partisanship with infant, child health care programs Combine healthcare and tax reform to bring out the best in both Overnight Tech: Internet lobby criticizes GOP privacy bill | Apple sees security requests for user data skyrocket | Airbnb beefs up lobbying MORE (Wis.), Todd Russell Platts (Pa.), Bill Posey (Fla.), Dave ReichertDavid (Dave) George ReichertDems dominate GOP in cash race for key seats With GOP mass exodus, pro-choice Democratic women will flip the House House GOP Appropriations chairman calls it quits MORE (Wash.), Mike Rogers (Mich.), Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (Fla.), Chris Smith (N.J.), Michael Turner (Ohio), Fred Upton (Mich.), Ed WhitfieldWayne (Ed) Edward WhitfieldWhy Republicans took aim at an ethics watchdog What Azerbaijan wants from Israel? Overnight Energy: Green group sues Exxon over climate science MORE (Ky.), Don YoungDonald (Don) Edwin YoungTrump EPA revives Obama proposal to block controversial Alaska mine Lawmakers see path to bringing back earmarks Oprah could be Democrats’ key to beating Trump MORE (Alaska), C.W. Bill Young (Fla.).