Dem, Tea Party members team up to help unemployed find work

Legislation to help the long-term unemployed is attracting some interesting alliances. 

A California Democrat has teamed up with a House Tea Party Republican to craft a bill that would provide vouchers for those who want to relocate to areas where there are more jobs.

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Rep. Tony Cárdenas (D-Calif.) and Rep. Mick Mulvaney (R-S.C.), introduced legislation Tuesday that would create a program within the Labor Department to cover expenses for those willing to move, whether it be withing their state or to another part of the country, to find work.

“Too many Americans are still out of work for us to stick with what hasn’t worked,” Cárdenas said.

“There are thousands of Americans who would be happy to move across the country or their state to chase their American Dream, but they cannot afford it."

Action on an unemployment benefits renewal has stalled in the Senate and won't have a chance for resuscitation until lawmakers return from next week's recess on Feb. 25.

That means about 1.7 million of the long-term unemployed — those out of work for at least six months — will be without benefits for the longest stretch since the federal emergency program started in June 2008.

Democrats and Republicans have battled over whether to reauthorize the benefits, which expired at the end of December. 

Most Republicans have called for sweeping reforms to the program and for passing legislation they say would create enough jobs to help those who are struggling to find work. . 

But Democrats argue that restoring the benefits program is a much faster solution, for now, as the job market continues to heal.

Some economists argue that, if put back into place for the rest of the year, the federal benefits program would naturally expire a jobless rates drop.

But while advocates expect another vote after the recess, chances of passing the bill are fading. 

“Solely extending unemployment benefits will not help people find jobs,” Mulvaney said.  

“It’s time we start working together to address the unemployment crisis and this is one piece of the puzzle," he said.

The lawmakers cited remarks made recently by Doug Elmendorf, director of the Congressional Budget Office, who told Cárdenas:

“Historically, part of what has helped to bring the labor market back to a beter place, after previous downturns has been the mobility of people. There’s evidence the mobility of Americans has actually declined over time, which may be an aggravating factor.”