Heritage Action urges 'no' vote on Senate unemployment bill

Influential conservative group Heritage Action is urging lawmakers to vote "no" on a bipartisan Senate plan to renew federal unemployment benefits for the long-term jobless.

The conservative group said Thursday that it will "key vote" a bill that is expected to pass the Senate on Friday.

Sens. Jack Reed (D-R.I.) and Dean Heller (R-Nev.) have spearheaded negotiations on the nearly $10 billion bipartisan measure that cleared a procedural hurdle on Thursday, picking up 10 Republican votes.

The Senate voted 65-34 Thursday to advance the bill, setting up 30 hours of debate, although a vote is expected before time officially expires.

Republicans voting for the bill were Sens. Kelly Ayotte (N.H.), Dan Coats (Ind.), Susan Collins (Maine), Dean Heller (Nev.), Ron Johnson (Wis.), Lisa Murkowski (Alaska), Rob Portman (Ohio), Pat Toomey (Pa.), Bob Corker (Tenn.) and Mark Kirk (Ill.).

The bill provides retroactive benefits for five months, back to the program’s lapse at the end of December through May.

"This bill would encourage prolonged unemployment for many Americans and would be paid for using accounting gimmicks that would pose unnecessary risks to taxpayers,” the Heritage statement said.

The Heritage Foundation’s James Sherk argued that the measure "would reduce the likelihood that more Americans would find employment quickly."

“Extended unemployment benefits are not an economic free lunch,” Sherk said.

“To find work, many workers will have to take positions that are much less than ideal. Extending benefits for too long encourages the unemployed to search for jobs that they will not find. This can hurt them in the long run.”

While the Senate is expected to pass the measure, it faces an uphill battle in the House against Republican leaders who say the bill fails to meet several of their requirements.