OVERNIGHT FINANCE: House Dems press GOP to take up jobless benefits

TUESDAY'S BIG STORY:  

Pushing for renewal: House Democrats on Tuesday will continue their push on the Republican leadership to consider a Senate-passed unemployment insurance bill that would provide five more months of retroactive benefits.

The House Democratic Steering and Policy Committee will hold a hearing on how the long-term unemployed — those who have been out of work for at least six months — are coping since the benefits expired at the end of last year.

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House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has been a harsh critic of Republicans for refusing to take up the bill. She argues that the lack of action is hurting American workers eager to find a job as well as the broader economy.

Sen. Dean Heller, a Republican from Nevada who co-sponsored the Senate measure with Democratic Sen. Jack Reed (R.I.), met with Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) last week but didn’t make much progress on moving the bill forward.

Boehner has said that while he would like to consider the measure, the White House has neither produced a bill that includes job creation initiatives nor urged the Senate to take up a slew of House GOP bills he argues will help grow the economy and spur hiring.

The stalemate has left the bill in a legislative limbo. 

Last week, Heller and Reed made another plea for the House to take up the measure. They argued that lawmakers must consider how badly the approximately 2.6 million workers need the emergency benefits before pushing for broader jobs initiatives.

House Ways and Means Committee ranking member Sandy Levin (D-Mich.) is among a number of other Democrats who have focused on the plight of those who are caught up in a vortex of long-term unemployment with the aim of garnering more support and votes for a continuation of the program.

Still, the bill has struggled to attract many Republicans because they say they benefits have continued for too long and are a disincentive for those who are out of work to look for a job, another point Democrats dispute. 

Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer (Md.) blasted Republicans on Monday for planning a vote on a tax credit bill that isn’t paid for but failing to consider the unemployment benefits renewal that is offset.

The battle has waged on since late last year with the Senate taking the lead in crafting a fully paid for bipartisan measure that includes some program reforms and would provide benefits through the end of this month. 

Some economists have argued that the expiration of the program weighed on economic growth in the first quarter and has cost jobs and stimulus the economy desperately needed during the long cold winter.

"They’re running out of savings, they’re running out of options and they’re running out of time," Reed said last week.

WHAT ELSE WE'RE WATCHING

Education funding: The Senate Budget Committee will debate the funding needs of the nation’s educational system with Education Secretary Arne Duncan on Tuesday.

Transportation debate: On Tuesday, the Senate Finance Committee will tackle the transportation funding debate as a deadline looms on a newly crafted highway bill as senators seek out ways to finance an upgrade of the nation’s infrastructure. 

ECONOMIC INDICATORS 

Trade Balance: The Commerce Department will release its March data on exports and imports of U.S. goods and services. 

WHAT YOU MIGHT HAVE MISSED

— Coalition begins drive to kill Export-Import Bank

— Holder: No bank is 'too big to jail'

— Service sector growth picks up pace in April

— Ackman: Impossible to scrap Fannie and Freddie

— FTC commissioner ‘somewhat optimistic’ about data breach bill

— Schumer predicts wage deal in six months

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