White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said Wednesday it's "a shame" that House Republicans haven't passed an unemployment extension — and suggested they should act without requiring something in return.
"It is our view that these are benefits that ought to be extended to Americans — to millions of Americans who need them," Carney said. "We do not view it as a cynical horse-trading exercise to achieve some ideological objective."
Boehner spokesman Michael Steel responded to Carney's comment Wednesday in an email.
"Measures to create more private-sector jobs — like the dozens of House-passed jobs bills awaiting action in the Democrat-controlled Senate — are not 'cynical,'" Steel said. "They are a serious effort to address the American people's number-one concern." Carney was also asked about the unemployment extension appearing to be a dead issue in the House. It's been nearly five months since the benefits expired and a five-month Senate-passed extension is going nowhere.
"We continue to call on Congress to provide emergency benefits to Americans who are looking for work, much as they did repeatedly at earlier stages of the recovery and during the previous administration," Carney said. "You know, it's a shame, because these are folks who are out there looking for work and need assistance to pay their rent and to feed their families. And I think any economist can verify that that assistance has a direct and positive benefit to the economy and immediate benefit to the economy, because that unemployment assistance — unemployment insurance is assistance that immediately gets funneled back into the economy and helps create jobs and drive growth."
Asked why the president hasn't taken his own advice to his supporters and picked up the phone and called Boehner to ask him what it would take to get that bill on the floor, Carney deflected.
"I think it's a novel supposition that Speaker Boehner would suddenly embrace the idea of extended unemployment insurance if the president would just call him and ask for it," Carney said.
Some lawmakers are still scrambling to find a way to revive the unemployment benefits, but they have not yet settled on a strategy to do so.
Related stories: Unemployment Extension: Jack Reed Hasn't Given Up Will Obama Call Boehner on Unemployment Extension? White House Stops Short of Threatening to Veto Tax Cut Bill Perez Offers to Negotiate Unemployment Extension With Boehner Senate Passes Unemployment Benefits Extension Unemployment Extension Vote Not Worrying House Republicans Get breaking news alerts from Roll Call in your inbox or on your iPhone.