Feb. 13, 2016 SIGN IN | REGISTER

GOP Rallies on Unemployment

“That’s under 10 states,” she said. “Tell that to the states that aren’t highly impacted but have scores of high-impact regions within those states,” she said.

Republican aides said their proposal would actually provide some extensions in 22 states.

Even some Republicans targeted by Democrats for defeat, such as Rep. Mark Kirk (Ill.), backed their party’s leadership and said they could easily sell the message back home.

“I want to make sure that when you get extended unemployment benefits, you’ve been working for more than two weeks,” he said.

Kirk said the issue just isn’t that big a deal in his district, where he said the unemployment rate is about 5.5 percent — the same as the national rate.

“I know that others think this is a big issue, but I’ve heard very little,” he said. “I have a very high-income district.”

But like the bruising battle over expanding children’s health insurance, the unemployment issue had scores of Republicans jumping ship. Delegations from hard-hit states such as Michigan voted with the Democrats, and some co-sponsored the Democratic bill and took to the floor to admonish fellow Republicans for opposing the $16 billion bill. Even Budget ranking member Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), normally one of the most fiscally conservative Members, jumped on board, citing the layoffs at a General Motors factory and other businesses in his district.

“Jobs are dropping fast in my neck of the woods,” he said. “I think it depends on where you are. ... If you represent Orange County and you’ve got 2.9 percent unemployment, then it probably doesn’t affect you. But if you represent Wisconsin and you represent Harley-Davidson and GM plants, then yeah, it does matter.”

Democratic Caucus Chairman Rahm Emanuel (Ill.) drew parallels to other partisan spats from the past year and a half, including the State Children’s Health Insurance Program and subsidies for oil companies, and he said House Republicans have shown that Bush still maintains a “loyal cadre” willing to back him up.

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